Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum which to place it, and I shall move the world
In 1919, Marcel Duchamp sent Suzanne, his sister, the instructions of what was to be her wedding gift on the occasion of her marriage with Jean Crotti, the Ready-Made Malhereux (Figure 1).
She had to expose a book of geometry to the weather conditions, hanging it from the balcony. Duchamp, always so elusive, drafted a performance whose staging would also depend on quantitative parameters such as the weight and volume of the book in question, length, thickness and elasticity of the element for its support. Who was the author of the gift? Marcel? Suzanne, who plotted the layout hatched by her brother? Time and the environmental physical conditions of temperature and humidity, the sunlight and the air movement? The set of instructions Drawing Machinearticulated by Edouard Cabayin September 2015 for an academic experiment at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC)recalls what made the Readymade Malheureux possible: Splitting the hand and the thinking brain[i].
André K. T. Assis, professor of physics at the UNICAMP, in Brazil, in his book on Gravity and the Law of the Lever[ii]dedicates one whole chapter to Building and Calibrating Levers. Consisting[iii]of a rigid body, normally linear, and a fulcrum or point of suspension, the lever permits minimizing the physical effort (of moving the earth when recalling Archimedes) to its bare minimum (Figure 2). Such aseptic way of facing a challenge, when –back to Drawing Machine– the hand doesn’t actually touch the pen, permitted students recording the physical processes they were confronted with in a scientific way.
Four-dimensional incidents, as suggested by the title of the drawings[iv], were recorded in a two-dimensional space (A1)[v]thanks to the devices engineered by IAAC students. The fact that a drawing machine “allows for and endless production of drawings that show a moment in time”[vi]leads us to wonder how many recordings -of a particular phenomenon- do we need to generate diagrammatic models able to “create stability in time and continuity between different places”[vii]so that we can generate a new grammar.
The very first goal of the research lineMachinic Protocols[viii], whichclaims -and encourages- to look at the reality with open eyes to grasp, to seize it in a very direct way, has already been achieved. Different phenomenon’s dynamics –wind, sea tides, pigeons rambling in Plaza Cataluña… – have been nicely recorded. Now it is ineluctable distilling this information so that it can inform new processes.This desire of ‘grasping’ and objectifying the reality took Béla Bartók, and his friend and fellow composer Zoltan Kodaly, to recondite places in Eastern Europe to record Gypsy and Magya folk melodies from 1904 to 1918. What is said to be Edison’s favorite invention’s, the phonograph, made it possible. We can feel profound resonances between the analogue devices students built in 2015 (Figure 3)and the phonograph, dating from 1877. This echo became even more evident when finding, at the very end of Bartok’s text The Influence of Peasant Music on Modern Music[i], the drawing of a peculiar device where three vectors seem to be ready to interact with some kind of physical process (Figure 4).
After 14 years “collecting no less than 2721 Hungarian melodies and texts”[ii], Béla Bartók spent other five long years analyzing, deciphering and notating his recordings (Figure 5). This thorough work –it is said that his exactitude in notation was “practically photographic”[iii]– provided himself and upcoming generations “the definite possibility of a new alphabet, grammar and syntax for modern music, not contrived in a vacuum of speculation like the dodecaphonic system, but built up on the pre-alphabetical elements of a living folk language in song and dance”. Hopefully Machinic Protocols will soon face this new challenge to come.
“Invent an analogue device, or a mechanism, that will autonomously do a drawing not created by your own body” Edouard Cabay, “The Machinic Gesture,” in Traces. Delineating Incidents(Barcelona: IAAC + Sant Lluc, 2016).
Andre K. T. Assis, Archimedes, the Center of Gravity, and the First Law of Mechanics. The Law of the Lever(Montreal: Apeiron, 2010).
“The lever consists of a rigid body, normally linear, the beam, capable of turning around a fixed axis horizontal to the ground. This axis is called the fulcrum or point of suspension of the lever. This axis is orthogonal to the beam” K. T. Assis.
Please notice that the titles of the forty drawings featured in the exhibition Traces. Delineating Incidentsfollow this structure: “energy source – xx hours / xx minutes / xx seconds”
Here Edouard’s instructions: A1 sheet of paper, 190 gr -Duria Matte- purchase in Rayma. Unquestionable. One pen “unipn – 01” – purchase in Rayma. Questionable.
Teresa Cheung, “Instruments of Drawing,” in Traces. Delineating Incidents(Barcelona: IAAC + Sant Lluc, 2016).
Raoul Bunschoten, “Stirring the City. CHORA’s Diagrammatica,” OASE48 (1998): 72–82.
Béla Bartók, “The Influence of Peasant Music on Modern Music,” Tempo14 (Winter, -1950 1949): 19–24.
Edith Gerson-Kiwi, “Béla Bartók-Scholar in Folk Music,”Music and LettersXXXVIII, no. 2 (April 1, 1957): 149–154.
In his text, Gerson-Kiwi quotes George Hezog’s expression in his Forewor for Bartók’s “Servo-Croatian Folk Songs”