Multimedia / Machine For Living

'Machine For Living' is a collaborative multimedia artwork that incorporates installation art into a dance performance

Title: Machine For Living
Date: 2000 - 2001
Media: Dance Installation
Dimensions: 10m x 10m
Material: Perforated steel panels, light, digital video and live performance
Collaboration: A collaboration with choreographer Carol Brown 
Funding: Commissioned for the Corn Exchange in Brighton and funded by South East Arts.

'Machine For Living' was a large-scale mix of performance installation and installation art constructed from thirteen steel panels measuring five meters high that, when lined up, form a ten-metre-wide wall. Each plane was pushed directly backwards or forwards in a space fourteen metres deep, creating a multi-dimensional series of corridors, cells or a steel forest inhabited by four performers.

This vertical industrial landscape was then cut horizontally with linear digital animations that distorted as they wrapped around the moving bodies and panels. As the performance unfolded, relationships were drawn and divided between the performers, creating a human architecture. The audience could navigate around the performance area, moving as and when they desired, at times viewing through the perforated structure experiencing moments of proximity and distance from the performers.

This artwork explored the relationship between body and architectural forms, drawing attention to the extremes of scale between them, attachments to space and the memories held by architecture beyond the individual’s experience.

'Machine for Living' is about human architecture. How a person buffs against a structure and how that structure breaks the body.

The perfect combination of installation art and performance

In the article "Crossing the genres" published in The Guardian, in December 2001, journalist and lecturer Viv Lawes saw the perfect combination between art installation and performance in 'Machine for Living', she wrote:

Installation art is perfectly suited to the descriptive function it plays for performance art, complementing and augmenting a theme. It also becomes more accessible to an audience who may be left cold by an installation in an art gallery.

For Brown and Rolinson, collaboration means that their own understanding of different modes of expression is broadened. “Esther and I make each other think differently about space,” says Brown. “I fill a space but Esther thinks about clearing it. We ask how we want people to feel watching the performance and try to represent the polarities between stillness and movement.

Viv Lawes. "Crossing the genres". The Guardian, 8 December 2001

'Machine for Living' - interconnection and solitude in a single artwork

'Machine for Living' explored our interconnection through urban isolation. A dark metallic forest cut with light and animation offering fleeting insights into privately inhabited spaces.

The public makes a physical journey, composing their own stories from glimpsed moments and fragmented human exchanges. Solid barriers or architectural structures dissolve; flickering images crystallise into human forms, brief encounters accumulate as relationships build in a mesmeric immersive space.

Duration: 70 minutes. Original music score by Pete Wyers. Lighting design by Michael Mannion. Performers: Carol Brown, Charlotte Derbyshire, James Flynn, Grant Maclay and Mathew Smith