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Nature vs. Nurture

Roxy Paine turns fake flowers and painting machines into high art

An amazing variety of forms emerges from the parameters Paine has established via his software. The artist, who once worked as a welder, makes the machines himself and collaborates with programmers when the software required becomes too complex. The machines are busy creating while on exhibit, so the works really have three component parts: the apparatus, the performance and the output. The paintings and sculptures can stand alone as visual objects but are enhanced by the overall context of their creation.

The works are rife with irony as well. The intent in automating tasks is to increase production, something that is anathema to Paine's methodically plodding machines and casting techniques. But Paine is essentially still creating all of these artworks himself, the mechanization merely acting as an intermediary between the artist and the final object. Chance still plays a role in the end, in how much paint sticks and how much drips off as well as in the effect of gravity on the blobs of hot plastic.

Paine's SCUMAK no. 2 makes blobby, free-form sculptures out of thermoset plastic.
Contemporary Arts Museum
Paine's SCUMAK no. 2 makes blobby, free-form sculptures out of thermoset plastic.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether Paine has OCD or that magic watch. His ideas and their labor-intensive realization are simply fascinating.

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