A Different Engine

A Different EngineArt Department graduate student Silvie Deutsch is premiering a new media performance-installation project in UCI’s Experimental Media Performance Lab (xMPL). Entitled A Different Engine, this large-scale work investigates weaving as the foundation of modern technology.

A Different Engine directs string to draw lines through space; in turn, mindless repetition amounts to something larger than its parts. Deutsch’s giant wood-and-string instruments teeter between use and uselessness like kites that cannot fly. The work hovers between theater and art as performers and viewers interact with the sculptural scape. Viewers are invited to wind, pluck, play, and touch the work. The machine-like objects become extensions of the visitors’ bodies as they in turn become part of a machine in a constant state of flux.

Designed for the xMPL—which in itself is a network of computers, outlets and wires—this installation references the history of computing: a history in which the punched cards of automated looms are understood as a key turning point. The Jacquard loom, which gathered threads through punched cards to regulate complicated patterns, serves as the impetus for this installation’s abstraction and investigation into the fundamental act of making. A Different Engine engages the tension in standard histories of computation, which elide the history of women’s labor and their central role in textile arts, substituting a technophilic story of mechanized automation and increasing efficiencies.

A Different Engine opens on Jan. 9, 2014, and runs through Jan. 19. Performances are as follows:

  • Preview Opening of Installation: Thursday, Jan. 9, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • Performances: Jan. 16, 17, 18 and 19, 7:00 p.m.
  • Closing Reception and Performance: Jan. 19, 7:00 p.m.

The Experimental Media Performance Lab is in the Contemporary Art Center of UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts.  Admission is free and open to the public. For driving and parking directions, go to this page.

A Different Engine was made possible with funding from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA).