Maska, časopis za scenske umetnosti

The Pleasure of the Automaton


“The semantic term The Pleasure of the Automaton represents a unique field of contradiction for thinking about artificial bodies throughout history and today, when the more and more realistic vision of an organically-mechanical being – cyborg – imposes itself; through this optic, we can also say a lot about the past and present connection between technology and art (also performance art, to be more concrete). It is not a coincidence that the topic origin is the original Greek notion automaton and not its up-to-date techno-evolutionary variant – cyborg. In the first place, of course, for the reason that we want to point out the original techno-mythological idea, hidden in every ideal utopia of the automaton, and the continuity, that yet enables us to get an insight into the difference and context of today’s artificial bodies. In the second place, because we want to set asunder, with the help of the pleasure of the automaton issue, some contradictions that have been pinned on to the automaton through history and have uncovered the ambivalent relationship between the living and artificial bodies. And then, of course, to restore a context, as broad as possible, for thinking about artificial bodies in art, about the possibility of different representational practices, unveiled by the more and more thin line between the animate and the inanimate.”

The editor of the theme section, Bojana Kunst: From the Definition, inviting the authors to cooperate


“At the end of the millennium, Maska represents the field between art and technology through the continuity of craving for the artificial, through fascination, where mere pleasure is the secret that keeps wraping itself into other names. Thus Kleist names it mildness, Stelarc hears it as grumbling of a hybrid, L’Isle Adam finds its accomplishment in an electrical android, Haraway verbalises it among the apes and monsters. First, the fascination and a system of organisation, and today the necessity of co-habitation in which the notion of the body and the bodily, its presence and image, is newly redefined. The stage forms, that have through history constantly been chasing this longing for the ideal image/ effectiveness of the body, mistaken its pleasure for The Pleasure, are today also faced with the presence of different parallel realities that unveil and change the status of theatre reality itself. Scott DeLahunta adds an ephemeral character to dance, Critical Art Ensemble finds effective political strategies of resistance in electronic theatre. The automaton doesn’t merely represent a rational network that is written in the mythological memory of mankind anymore, it is not anymore a machine taking the human’s space, instead, dodging hybrid creatures are entering its territory, monsters, recombined genes, creatures that are not sensitive to space and time, electronic bodies whose pleasure can hardly be captured and described as an ‘affinity of certain muscles for the imagination’, as La Mettrie would call it.” The editor of the theme section, Bojana Kunst: From the Editorial of the theme section.