Haus am Lützowplatz, around the corner from the Bauhaus Archive Museum in southern Tiergarten, has become a shrine to industrial efficiency. Numerous videos of busy machines in a textile factory fill walls with hypnotising choreographed movements in Anette Rose’s Captured Motion.
The first, seen from the front door, offers a static shot filled by the circular aluminium frame of an industrial-grade radial braiding machine, which can weave carbon fibres together into almost any shape. Its bobbins, the parts that act as “hands” holding the individual strings, do-si-do, weaving and bobbing endlessly in perfect synchronisation, as if part of some joyous ritual. Still and moving images from motion capture software and slo-mo surveillance shots exemplify just how advanced this industrial equipment is. These different forms of “captured motion” can be found again and again in videos shot from other vantage points, and played at varying speeds, from entirely different machines – projectors and TVs – throughout the space.
In this production-centred universe almost every function is necessarily efficient and flawless, but certain clues hint that each piece of machinery was invented and designed by a human mind, based on human skills, to fulfil a human need. “#28 Braiding Motion Ground Graph” is quite possibly a graphic from an user’s manual, but printed large and shown on the floor, it instantly becomes a set of numbered-footprint dance instructions.
A display case nearby exhibits white fibre braids as if they are woven baskets in a natural history museum. The energy-tracking oscilloscope, functions like a heart rate monitor for machines. But the most glaring give-away is “#21 Weaving – Automated”, which shows a manual sewing machine-like apparatus, that isn’t working as well as the others. Suddenly a real human hand appears in frame (this is the only time a body is visible), to clean up some stray threads.
Rose, the Berlin-based artist who created this work during her residency at the Institute for Textile Technology and the Motion Capture Laboratory at the RWTH Aachen, has spent 10 years researching this topic. Her project Encyclopaedia of Manual Operations is an archive of videos, photographs and texts that seek to record the expressions and hand gestures of skilled craft, labour and leisure.
The image Rose has chosen for the postcard of the exhibition adds a final human dimension. It shows people standing around a Maypole in America in 1920, waiting to begin their dance. Here, it’s not just the similarity in form that’s obvious, but the loss of tradition, culture, and even purpose that comes when we erase methods of production for the sake of efficiency.
CAPTURED MOTION Through March 6, Haus am Lützowplatz, Lützowplatz 9, Tiergarten, U-Bhf Nollendorfplatz, Tue-Sun 11-18