i. 2. (New) Mechanick Exercises
Video, Print, Performance, Installation
(New) Mechanick Exercises
(New) Mechanick Exercises is a collection of project that emerged from an interest Joseph Moxon’s 1677 book, Mechanick Exercises or The Doctrine of Handy-Works. The first ever English language book published on the craft of printing and typography, Mechanick Exercisess is a technical manual and builder’s guide that offers detailed instructions on the construction and operation of a printing press. It also instructs the reader on the ideal physical postures and movements required to operate a press.
This collection of works (which includes a video, print publication, and live participatory performance) explores the tools, materials, and processes of design, and how these all affect not just the formal output of the work we make, but the shape and movements of our bodies in the process.
These ten double-sided cards combine excerpts from (as well as notes on) Moxon’s text with visual research that illustrates art, architecture, and design’s historical and ongoing attempt to analyze, understand, replicate, standardize, control, and design for (and with) the human body.
A booklet was created as a supplement to the video piece shown above. It includes all of the voice-over text from the video as well as original annotations that aim to clarify and expand on the themes and ideas presented in it. This booklet performs like footnotes with each section of text marked by a number which connects it to a specific frame (or image) in the video.
The final piece in this body of work is a participatory performance that explores the themes of labour, design tools and processes, and how these all relate to and effect the movements of the human body.
During this 20-minute performance, participants were tasked with typesetting Frederick Taylor’s 1911 seminal management theory essay, The Principles of Scientific Management. Participants were given instructions read out to them by an Ai voice-over. Each participant was assigned a specific role, then told when and how to install fonts, set up the file, and place content into the document. Staged as an extra-large, analog translation of the experience of working under impossible deadlines and with glitchy software, this work took inspiration from Fluxus dance performance scores, and was designed exaggerate the participants’ movements one stage.
The themes of time, productivity, and worker efficiency were emphasized by sounds of a ticking clock, constant buzzers, and high-pitched warnings about the time left to complete the project. Numerous errors and “glitches” slowed down participant “productivity”, further emphasizing both the impossibility and absurdity of the task assigned.