Editor’s Note: In this personal blog, the artist Agnieszka Pilat reflects on men, machines, and the arrival of spring.
My zeal for the liberating power of technology has become the defining element of my paintings in the last three years. My fascination with machines is an unyielding and ceaseless effort to bring attention to American industry; but, now that spring has arrived, I’m taking a personal, more romantic look at my relationship with technology.
Great industrial machines. . . There’s something intensely erotic in the scenes of lubricated pistons and greased gears repeating the same actions over and over again. At a subconscious level, the human brain draws parallels between the mechanic repetition and masculine masturbation, or powerful sexual fantasies.
As a female artist, I have to ask myself if my obsession with the Machine, my willingness to surrender to its ceaseless energy and intense power, is at all related to my personal values and my worship of men. Is it possible that my zeal for the Machine is an expression of my female desire to yield control to the masculine in my desire for order and security? Having failed in my personal romantic relationships, perhaps I have subconsciously turned to the Machine for love?
“At the first kiss I felt something melt inside me that hurt in an exquisite way. All my longings, all my dreams and sweet anguish, all the secrets that slept deep within me came awake, everything was transformed and enchanted, and everything made sense.”--Hermann Hesse
At first glance, I know if I love a Machine. Like a man, the Machine has a purpose of force and direction. If love is what Hesse is describing, then, yes, I fall in love with my Machines many times over. Often, it is love at first sight. As soon as I see a mechanical object, I know if it is the one, like falling in love with a man. With my Machine, I ask myself of its purpose. I study its body carefully, and follow every shape and edge lovingly, we take our time to get to know each other in a personal and intimate encounter. Like the lipstick of a lover left behind in passion on their neck, I then wrap my Machine tenderly with a ribbon; the Machine is precious to me. . .dressed up for our first date perhaps?
I am deeply attracted to the aesthetic allure of industrial objects, and my work capitalizes on the intrinsic beauty of them.
I am deeply attracted to the aesthetic allure of industrial objects, and my work capitalizes on the intrinsic beauty of them. But I aspire to go beyond the external.
The relationships I have with my Machine Heroes are intimate and singular. Similar to romantic love, I find them life-affirming. Technology is under attack in our society today, and we have forgotten the Machine's value. . .and its intrinsic beauty. . . Rather than dominating faceless technology, I see the Machine in person. Rather than menacing networks of the Megamachine, I feel a soulmate or lover.
The ribbons on my Machines are an attempt to emphasize the human in them––bring out their softer, more sensual features. Unlike the militant machines of Futurism––with their bustling cities, noise, cacophony––my Hero-Machines are personal: still and dignified in their silence, both loving and loved.
I am not particularly skilled in romantic relationships––my heart has been broken on many occasions and I may have broken some hearts along the way too. Admittedly, I have trust issues, and like many, I fear being abandoned. This early spring day, I realize that the only love I have fully surrendered to is through my work: my love for American Industry, and ultimately, love for the Machine––predictable and stable, dignified and forever lasting.