As part of her MA work at the Design Academy Eindhoven, artist and graphic designer Echo Yang created a fascinating series entitled Autonomous Machines that transforms analog devices into autonomous drawing machines. The objects, ranging from a tin chicken toy to a windup alarm clock to an old Walkman, are all obsolete now in the age of ever-advancing technology and digitalization, but Yang breathes new life into them by using them to create self-generated art.
Through this project, Yang explores the notions of information design and modern generative design processes, in which designers use algorithms to create a variety of different outcomes. She applies these modern generative design processes to old-school, analog devices in order to reveal their internal algorithms. “By making use of the specific mechanical movement of particular machine, I attempt to transform them into a drawing machines in the simplest way,” the artist explains. A tin toy with a paint-covered cotton swab taped to it dabs paint in repeating circles. A hand mixer with paintbrush bristles attached to it creates abstract swirls of paint and ink. Each machine, once wound up or turned on, is left to its own devices to create repetitive, but complex, works of art.
According to Yang, “This design proposal is not meant for creating a new tool to achieve a particular purpose. Instead, by showing how machines speak in their own language, based on their internal logics, the proposal is about bringing more awareness to the algorithm inside the ordinary objects around us. It is an inspirational way that helps broaden the notion of information design.”
To read more about her project and to see videos of the machines in action, feel free to check out Yang’s website.