Mark Dotzler: The Machines

The Machines

Text by David Everitt Howe
August 31, 2015

Mark Dotzler is obsessed with technology, which is fitting for someone who places outmoded mainframe computers directly on the wall, as he did for Gig(2000). Worth one gigabyte of memory and weighing around 400 pounds, they look otherworldly, like some anonymous machinery spotted in a sci-fi movie. They’re a clunky if beautiful update on prehistoric cave painting, in which memories of a different sort were placed on walls. Some of his other work features machine gun belt feeds, looping and twisting together like centipedes, while Dotzler also gives Silicon wafers the gallery treatment; all of which hint at the larger more ominous ramifications of technological progress. As Dotzler told me in no uncertain terms: “There is no greater threat to humanity than the loss of privacy, and they’re collecting everything on everyone. What will end up happening is it will change the essence of human beings.”

Other topics of choice for Dotzler include terrorism, ISIS, and the Ferguson riots, all anchored in his deep-seated distrust of the America’s military-industrial complex. On ISIS he opines “it’s the new terror brand, it’s a product launch. I doubt all this stuff.” On the United States: “I’m outraged. It’s because I care. The #1 terrorist state in the world is America.” It’s hard to argue with his logic, but we weren’t meeting to talk politics; we were meeting to discuss his work, which seemed almost like an afterthought, and perhaps also something of an anomaly, considering it’s so elegant and spare. There’s nothing of the hysteria Dotzler speaks so vehemently about. Maybe it’s because in them he sees some hope for a future in which we become more perfect beings.

“What I’m after is a sort of minimal, cool elegance. I think 100 years from now we’re going to be so different, as we’re at such an incredible departure…it will make the industrial revolution look like nothing.”

Artist statement: "Almost everything we do now involves binary code and the silicon chip surface that that code operates on. Civilization is being completely transformed on that surface and the resulting tidal wave of change is accelerating exponentially. Its similar to the impact that the invention of the wheel had on ancient civilizations, but incredibly larger and faster. My work “node” contemplates that comparison, and our twenty-first century version of the wheel."