MASCHINE, measuring 16 by 21 by 91⁄2 feet, Duncan channels painterly intuition through a remote controlled spray-painting machine. Rather than employing a trained professionalʼs exacting technique, Duncan captures the childʼs fully present and intuitive act of creation by using the machine to distance the painter from his calculated process. Surrendering control, the artist allows the machine to execute unpracticed marks onto the canvas, resulting in an array of sprayed strokes on a gesso white field. Duncanʼs contemporary response to the calculated, solid color planes of the colorfield painters, MASCHINE diagrams the progression of the machine’s life and evokes the struggle between man and machine.
Zhivago Duncanʼs coupling of a painting machine and kinetic sculpture infuses MASCHINE with a Dadaist sensibility that is truly 21st century. Opposed to the painting machine, which is typically subordinate or even irrelevant to the paintings it “creates”, MASCHINEʼs structure and function are as integral to the piece as its resulting art. Unlike most kinetic sculptures, MASCHINE has no direct-bound trajectories: despite the ostensibly repetitive motion, the spray can nozzles never cross the same path twice. Duncan, the sole inventor and creator of the machine, not only delights us with his simultaneously organic, instinctive and mechanical pieces but also challenges tradition with his uniquely erratic and unfamiliar creative process.