But basically machines were not self-moving, self designing, autonomous. They could not achieve man’s dream, only mock it. They were not man, an author to himself, but only a caricature of that masculinist reproductive dream. To think they were otherwise was paranoid. Now we are not so sure.
– Donna Harraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs
Machino the fading line between man and machine; also a play on the pronunciation of the fashion brand Moschino, recognising that the digital space, once intended to be an anti-institutional arena of free flowing ideas has become seeped in aspirational brand identity.
Chrome taken from ‘adrenachrome’ a QAnon conspiracy theory in which the blood of a child is injected into an older (wealthier) person and thus imbued with vitality. Supposedly popular amongst celebrities. References notions of immortality and eternity.
Dreams the abstracted reality of this contemporary moment; the continued blurring between the physical and digital dimensions.
Light darts across a slick gloss pool as five figures hang motionless on the wall. On the occasion of Louis Morlæ’s solo exhibition Machinochrome Dreams, Moarain House has been transformed into a simulation, where the viewer becomes a character within a live action role play.
Alpha, Ecce, Ferme, Iodah and Jumbo are new sculptures from Morlæ, using 3D printing technology to replicate or explain bodily experience – objects that act as surrogates, that he could live vicariously through while confined indoors in a fallible, and finite, human form. Whilst in previous work, Morlæ was interested in the body in a more visceral way, in Machinochrome Dreams, the material has shifted from the tactility of clay and latex to plastic, making manifest the term ‘critical design’. Coined by Dunne and Raby in the 1990s, ‘critical design’ posits the use of design to challenge narrow preconceptions about the role objects play in everyday life, opening up a dialogue between us and the things that occupy the spaces around us.
At a time when many have been driven into a digital space within the home, what is the embodiment that technology can take, its affect and function? The five sculptures within the show are Morlæ working through ideas about how something could be humanoid. In A Manifesto for Cyborgs, Donna Harraway asserts that “our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”
Engaging with these thoughts from Harraway, in Morlæ’s animation Ecce in Semper Aeternum, the figures, pale and lifeless objects inert in the physical, come alive in the digital, further confusing the line between the two; mimicking how abstract reality has and continues to become in the midst of a world thrown into chaos.
Framed as a fable, Ecce in Semper Aeternum can be read as Ecce's journey through the story Semper Aeternum or, when translated from the Latin, as a tale of eternity: “behold forever and ever”. Like ancient mythologies of Prometheus and Sisyphus, Ecce is locked in a loop, performing the same ritual in perpetuity. Dressed in Moncler and Balenciaga, he makes his way through a dystopian world – dancing, drinking, being in close proximity with others. The humanoid is not vulnerable to illness, nor can it age. Cloaked in aspirational armour, Ecce becomes an avatar, for both Morlæ and the viewer, enacting those desires unable to be fulfilled through a finite physical form in this simulation we call reality.
Original score composed by Charlie Dobney. All fabric works made in collaboration with Lucy James aka Lucien clothing.