Throughout human history, we depend on machines to survive. Fate has a certain sense of irony." is a sentence from the film "Matrix" that has always stayed with me. The mechanised world is our world - intimately connected to all our pursuits. We no longer think about it. Machines are a necessary obviousness.
DDV's latest exhibition, at Gallery S&S (@galerie_sns) in Borgerhout, follows in the footsteps of Frans Masereel, who collaborated on Romain Roland's never-executed film project "La Révolte des Machines" a hundred years ago. Masereel then executed - by way of "storyboard" - a series of beautiful, small woodcuts that eventually found their place in a booklet published in 1921 under the same title. The booklet never got distributed...
A hundred years later, DDV gets to work with AI-generated images (over three hundred at the "danny devos" prompt), microcontrollers, new printing techniques on fabric, 3D printed sculptures and engravings on blue stones, to staggeringly show how our world has changed.
Beautifully rendered AI images - all in the style of Masereel's engravings - show us a strange yet familiar world in which, amid vintage steam engines, giant wheels that look like eyes and a jumble of metal structures, humans marry the whole bric-à-brac.
In Masereel and Romain Roland's story, the revolt of the machines seems to be finally overcome by the power of the human mind and... by the fact that the machines have begun to declare war on each other. However at the end, the machines come back... upon which the whole story starts all over again from the beginning.
Which leaves the dancing that Aviette (one of the characters from "La Révolte des machines" 18 to 20 years old, athletic, cheerful, mischievous, and fearless) an adorable robot made of balsa wood who performs meticulously programmed steps to the tones of Nirvana. We could only watch. Dancing along with a robot is tough.
An exhibition to see until 12 November!