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Rise of the Machines
Transcript of Rise of the Machines
Throughout the 1920s, America experienced change. Art was expressed in many radical ways, far ahead of its time. Some art forms were becoming more industrialized, focusing on the machine, the rigidness of metal, and the coldness of mechanical life.
The film Metropolis by German expressionist, Fritz Lang is a prime example of this industrialized out look. The odd angles of this black and white film and the futuristic architecture set the mood of an industrialized city.
At its core, the workers and the heart machine run Metropolis.
The workers are the under privileged people of Metropolis. They represent the dehumanization of the work force. Their stilted movements accentuate the workers becoming mechanized, one with the machine. The music also accentuates the plight of the workers with industrialized sounds.
The birth of the Machine Man, by Rotwang, the mad scientist, is what seems to be the undoing of Metropolis. Controlled by Rotwang, the Machine Man is used to take over the workers who believe she is their savior. The Machine Man represents the seven deadly sins that are the undoing of the workers. These seven deadly sins are visually represented through out the film.
A few can be seen when the Machine Man dances, representing lust from the workers and when the Machine Man preaches to the workers, representing wrath and pride. Envy is also represented when the Machine Man convinces the workers that they should be envious of the Thinkers and attack them.
At the close of the film, Metropolis offers a resolution that provides no change in the current situation of any of the people. The workers are convinced that they must be the hands and the Thinkers are the head and the heart machine is what holds them all together. The three pieces, the head, the heart, and the hands, combined make the entire machine that is Metropolis.
Much like the Machine Man, Tamara de Lempicka painted portraits of people who look extremely industrialized and mechanical. Her painting techniques bring out cubist feelings and her use of clean, precise and elegant lines accentuate a cold, stone, machine feeling. The shaping of clothing, angles, and background combined are reminiscent of the machine and industrialization.
A famous portrait painter, Lempicka often painted nudes in the 1920s. These paintings are filled with feelings of desire and seduction, but her art deco style produced feelings of metallic bodies, as if they were machines.
Lempicka represents the women she paints as mechanized and has them mesh in with their industrialized surroundings, which often included machinery, cars, and buildings.
Lady Gaga represents Metropolis not only in her Metropolis photo shoot, but also with her music video, Paparazzi. There have also been other “artists” who have used Metropolis as their inspiration.
Madonna is also a huge collector of Tamara de Lempicka’s work. She has featured Lempicka’s artwork in her music videos “Open Your Heart” (1987), “Express Yourself” (1989), “Vogue” (1990), and “Drowned World/ Substitute for Love” (1998). Madonna’s use of Lempicka’s paintings in “Vogue” brings a more humanizing look to the paintings, while the poses and blatant sexuality of the video speaks to similar inspirations used by Lempicka.
Madonna’s video “Express Yourself” is also a modern day representation of Metropolis.
“the self-portrait of Tamara de Lempicka is a real image of the independent woman who asserts herself. Her hands are gloved, she is helmeted and inaccessible; a cold and disturbing beauty [through which] a formidable being is.” Auto-Journal (1979).
Art Deco embraced the machine and progress
Leon Theramin was a Russian professor and inventor who created an unusual electronic musical instrument controlled without contact by the player. Theramin patented his invention in 1928.
The sounds made by the Theramin device are often called eerie and industrialized.
The device itself has a controlling section with two metal antennas. The two antennas sense the motion of the player’s hands and control the oscillators (for frequency) and amplitude (for volume). Thus, the machine can be played without being touched. This electronic musical instrument is a prime example of how industrialization modernized music. This device represents the union of man and machine becoming one.
The Machine is still prevalent in our every day lives. Modern day examples and uses of many of these industrialized ideas can be seen in present day art works.
The clock represents the daily grind of the workers, seen here with Freder, which has now become a day to day norm in our society.