AUSTRIA: MISCHER’TRAXLER: THE IDEA OF A TREE

A machine that lets its produce be guided by the amount of light it receives ? At the centre of society and social innovation stands an industry. And industry implies machines. So how you convince a machine to socialize? How can you bring it in step with nature? How green can a machine be? To what degree can you make it human-powered? These are questions that brought the Vienna based design studio and duo Mischer’Traxler to experiments such as ‘The Idea of a Tree’ or ‘Collective Works’: the former a machine that lets its produce be guided by the amount of light it receives, like a tree, the latter a machine that only comes to action when people come closer, show interest, and start to produce ‘collectively’. One important renovation is that whereas the method remains the same the results are always different. Max Borka. ALL IMAGES: © mischer’traxler

Whether it is nature, and the way in which the growth of a tree is dependent on sunlight and natural cycles, or the attention paid by the audience, the recent experiments of Katharina Mischer (1982) and Thomas Traxler (1981) focus on the way machines almost become individuals when these characteristics become the basis of their manufacturing process – with an outcome that is always different. One project, The Idea of a Tree, started from the premise that every tree stems from a particular context, and is a product of a specific time and place, reacting and developing according to its surroundings, and constantly recording and integrating various environmental impacts in its growth process. The goal of The Idea of a Tree was to see how these recording qualities of a tree and its dependence on natural cycles could be transferred to machines and their products, combining natural input with a mechanical and serial process in an autonomous production.

HARVEST-

mischer‘traxler created a solar-powered machine that makes furniture, with the shape and color of each product determined by the amount of sunlight available during the manufacturing process. The machine ‘grows’ benches, containers and lampshades by drawing threads through a tank of dye and subsequently a basin of resin, and finally winding them around a rotating mold. The speed at which the machine spins the mold and draws the thread is dictated by the amount of sunlight. Each piece takes one whole day to make, the variations in thickness and color-saturation depending on the changes in daylight and shadow throughout the day. Like a tree the object thus becomes a three-dimensional recording of its process and time of creation, and the climatic and environmental factors of its surroundings. The outcome during a cloudy period will for instance be darker and thinner than that made in bright sunshine, and since the machine automatically starts producing at sunrise and stops at sunset, the length and height of the resulting object depends on the sun hours of the day, the daily ‘harvest’ in winter being shorter than one made in summer.

MARKERS-

In Collective Worksthe production process only functions when people pay attention to the machine. Responding to its audience, the process translates the flow of people in the machine’s surroundings and the interest they show into the object that is being made. Production starts when a first person approaches: a wooden 24 mm wide veneer strip is pulled through a glue basin and slowly coils up around a 20 mm thick wooden base. As the turning platform with the base moves downwards, the veneer strip slowly builds up a basket. A mold is not needed, since the material supports itself and does not collapse when being coiled up. When another viewer joins to watch the process, color is added to the veneer with a marker, activated by sensors in the frame of the machine. When one person is watching, one sensor is activated and the machine starts winding. When two are watching, a second sensor comes into action: a marker with a light tone color is pressed to the veneer, and colors it. When a third person approaches, another marker with a darker color is activated. Up to four markers can stain the veneer strip simultaneously. The resulting outcome varies in color and size, in line with the level of the audience’s interest during production, and the overall interaction time. The more often somebody stops by to watch the process, the higher the basket becomes. Every spectator leaves a mark on the object so that each basket becomes a unique record of the people’s interest in the production process. A basket – a vessel made to collect– thus becomes a collection of data. If nobody is interested in the project, production stops altogether and no object is made. Collective works thus questions the relationship between man and machine. Viewers are turned into workers though their effort involves only the time they spend with the machine – but time is what most of us lack. Also, machines in factories need only a single technician to monitor production, whereas in this work, a single machine needs various viewers –a collective- to produce colorful results. www.mischertraxler.com

FORE MORE IMAGES: SEE THE MAPPING THE DESIGN WORLD PHOTO ALBUMS

01 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE 02 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE 03 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE 04 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE 05 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE 06 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE

08 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 09 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 10 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 11 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 12 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 13 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER 14 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER07 AUSTRIA- MISCHER’TRAXLER- THE IDEA OF A TREE

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