The Talking Machine

Paul Devens
BIO

Paul Devens lives and works in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Devensʼ research-based practice covers sound in conjunction with designed space and links to social and historic backgrounds. His work addresses questions of value, preconception and code in our civil society. Outcomes of his practice include site-specific installations, architectonic interventions, music performances and CD and vinyl releases.

Website

Installed in Atelier Clerici during the Salone del Mobile 2017, The Talking Machine uses references from the pioneering stage of modern technology in todayʼs axis of time. The sound installation addresses the basic problematics of our current intertwinement and dependency of communication technology.

A make-shift robotic arm is scanning, randomly, a surface covered with audiotape strands. The audio head, attached to this arm and moving according to a chaotic choreography, stops every now and then to play-back a recording of a voice, reading aloud Rudolf Lothar’s The Talking Machine: A Technical-Aesthetic Essay. Writer and critic Lothar originally wrote the essay in 1924, reflecting on the public being confronted with the illusion of an authentic human (voice) represented by a machine, through an idiom that is defined by the relationship between noise and signals.

“Everything flows, Herclitus says, and in light of our modern worldview we may add: everything flows in waves. Whatever happens in the world, whatever we call life or history, whatever occurs as a natural phenomenon – everything transpires in the shape of waves.” – Rudolf Lothar.

The use of audio tape as a medium for The Talking Machine originates from old technology, referring to a pre-digital age where forms of diffusion, broadcasting and propaganda were more tactile, serving agendas for reasons of commerce and administration not dissimilar to now.

The Talking Machine offers an illogical order of sounds, words, and movements in an ever-changing order to its audience.

Fictional Journal, Issue 02. Propaganda presents sound installation The Talking Machine by Paul Devens at Atelier Clerici (Palazzo Clerici, Via Clerici 5, Milan, Italy) during Milan Design Week from 4–9 April 2017.

Land of Panicutopia: Tales of Spectacle and Destruction

Gali Blay and Meggie Rotberger
Text, moving image.

Reality and fiction intertwine in a set of articles about Israeli-Palestine desert community and an Israeli defense system. The articles and collages bring along questions of physical and psychological elements of security.

A Euro is a Euro is a Euro: Fieldwork in European Realism

Paolo Patelli
essay, 3D animation.

As a singular embodiment of matter and representation, the Euro-Skulptur is as abstract as money, as tangible as cash. An essay and 3D scans made on site, analyse the sculpture as a material symbol of the European Union.

Empty Orchestra

MAGMAH (Gabriel A. Maher & Isabel Mager)
karaoke film, performance, statement.

A visual, text, sound montage pulls apart the official website of the Salone del Mobile, reinterpreting mainstream design media in a satirical comment on the rhetoric and disinformation of commodity culture and consumption.

Ancestors & Algorithms

Foundland
research, moving image.

A collection of observations draws together contemporary political events and ancient future-telling practices. These can be considered human and non-human strategies in forecasting what a political future might look like – for better or worse.

There’s a Tourist in all Our Heads

Rui Gilman
essay.

Tourism changes social-economic relations alongside the materiality of the city itself. An essay maps the ascent of tourism through the case study of New York City, primarily the evolution of Times Square since 1975.

Herbert Bayer and the Ethics of Design

Anja Neidhardt
Essay.

Herbert Bayer was a significant designer. A lesser-known aspect of his work, alongside his commercial work, is he also worked for the Nazi regime. An essay investigating the responsibilities and ethics of designers while creating a form for a message.

Tools of Communication

Coralie Gourguechon x Fabrica
database, website.

An evolving online database classifies examples of human communication, aligning anachronistic tools and systems that answer similar wills or needs, but with a different technology and context.