The Zero Machine (or The Human Stain Remover)

RMIT Gallery

344 Swanston Street

Melbourne, VIC, 3000

17 Nov 2016 — 19 Feb 2017, Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, incl. White Night

Wood, machine parts, motors, stainless steel, digital animation, camera, sound

300 x 260 x 450 cm

Courtesy the artists


The human has produced art since the first cave paintings but it is a stain to which we think we have found the answer. In an effort to preface the machinic production of art and the complete erasure of the human-gesture in the process, Bishop and Reis present a proto-type monument. It doubles as an inscrutable modernist object and a human stain removal machine. In this sense we pave the way for our incipient friends, be they machine or alien. From the cave to the canvas we take the bio out of the term bio-art. Acknowledging that we too have made some questionable gestures (indexical marks that Mum just couldn't remove) in our practice this machine might be seen as the beginning  of our atonement as it points to a world without human gesture. It finishes Kazimir Malevich’s project, of which the most well known work was The Black Square (1915) and as it was termed: “the zero point of painting”. He took painting into the black void, but the problem remained that the human hand applied the brush to the canvas. This monument-machine takes the black, the red, the cream and the white out of Malevich’s square works, while removing any evidence of the textured brush-strokes of the human hand. It posits green as the colour of the future. The colour into which all of humanity disappears. The monument machine is fed a Malevich of the audience’s choosing, and at the end of a production line, into which the audience can watch the process in action, a smooth, green canvas is produced and it is onto that surface that all of our digital and machinic dreams might be realized. It is post-critical, post-spectacle and post neo-liberal. It rids the work of stains, textures and gestures to arrive at what is essentially an empty space. CB

Green screen recording, RMIT Gallery White Night, 2017