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  • Holger Dielenberg

I’m a tool, don’t laugh so are you!


Fifty years ago, Andy Warhol nailed it when he commented during an interview, “I want to be a machine.” The avant-garde darling of Pop waged a war of candy colours on our traditional minds and for a while, we believed that anything was possible.

But Warhol was a copycat. The day art embraced technology could be traced back to Leonardo, so let’s not get too excited. And what about the subtle darker undertones? For every step forward, there are groups of people who fear change and will hold us two steps back.

One of the conservative art world's greatest mistakes was to claim, photography is not art. Warhol like many before and after him brandish technology with fervour.

Right now because of the NGV, my skull has been plastered with Warhol quotes so here’s another: “Liking things is like being a machine. We do it over and over again!” Gold, from beyond the grave, every Facebook liker just got fingered by Warhol.

Like psychopaths, we continue behaving in the same way and expect to stand out.

(Pun alert) Since primordial soup, being attracted to and fearing new things is hard wired into our frail soft existence. Someone somewhere is definitely laughing because we’re also programmed with curious minds that continuously search for improvements.

It’s a recipe for comedy: wanting and fearing change.

How outraged were the cultural elite in the fourteen hundreds when Gutenberg invented the printing press? By God, where’s the advantage if everyone suddenly has access to good literature?

And Orwell? We’re all tools in a greater machine of control. Reminding us to this day that despite how we tend to interpret the worst when faced with progress, really all we are reacting to are tools of our own creation and desire.

We make tools to make things easier and we hate tools that make us change. We are tools! Yep I’m a tool, don’t laugh so are you.

Warhol willingly became the tool of control in his own art machine. He mastered the art of pimping our desire and feeding our fear. People like by numbers and Warhol monopolized that. He also knew that challenging our comfort zones would make him a puppet master and Cha-Ching goes the cash register.

The clash of old meets new was beautifully parodied in Warhol’s work and has sent echoes through to today as we continue to struggle with technology in art.

So the next time you're offended a by a machine hugger, remember you’re a tool and the next time you diss tradition, remember you’re a tool. And if you prefer to sit on the fence, then enjoy the view while it lasts because more technology is just over the horizon.

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