Hand and Eye

Ines Lindner

On Anette Rose’s “Encyclopaedia of manual operations”

Eleven steps, eleven times a concerted look and the work of both hand and machine. We can see linking, sanding, punching, rolling. The noise of the machines, often rhythmic, sets the pace for the individual work steps. The double projection at a right angle establishes the relationship between hand and eye by asking us to capture their interaction at one glance. The anthropologist Leroi-Gourhan has defined the basis for the development of human intelligence in the correlation between hand and eye. Tools relieving hands from hard labour change this relationship. Machines translate the activities of a hand into mechanical action thus modifying the use of the hand. Compared to the evolution of the human hand the development which is focused on the relief from manual work by machines is short. It is a question of economy as to how far manual work is replaced. Efficiency depends on the product and its social preconditions as well as on the materials used and the production quantities. The idea that automated production is necessarily more efficient is not true. For certain production steps, for instance in the automotive industry, it is still to expensive to replace the highly complex functions of a human hand. The manoeuvres required when processing high-quality porcelain or cutlery will also not change in the foreseeable future.

Anette Rose’s view of the creative processes is not nostalgic. She is interested in haptile intelligence which can only be converted into robotics with great technical effort. She enquires about this haptile intelligence by means of both precise observations and in talks with experts: how much does this specific intelligence, which is a result of the interaction of hand and eye, shape our thinking? What role does it play in the research on artificial intelligence? In prosthodontics?

At the same time as the artist is on a mission in the field of research and development, she is working on a special kind of archive with her Encyclopaedia of Manipulations: the concentrated look and the economy of the means puts Anette Rose’s work in the tradition of the social photography of people like August Sander and the Bechers’1 industrial archaeology. Anette Rose’s work is documentary just like theirs. As they do she sets up an archive which not only picks up but which makes deliberately visible? Just like them she works on a reduction of the preexisting to carve out the determining points. For all three the serial moment is crucial: in a series of similar objects the special stands out even more whilst remaining a part of the context. A tangibly experienced reality.

Just like the process of selecting and taking photos of industrial architecture by the Bechers’ which follows strict rules that ensure a uniform appearance in terms of lighting and positioning, Rose also ensures similarity in her video recordings of workshops by adhering to a strict set of rules. Her work in her recordings, the camera angles, the cutting and arranging of the recordings demonstrate the minimalistic strictness of the shape. Unlike the case of the minimalists, however, it is under a certain tension as a result of engaged focus on her motif. Rose’s work is unsentimental and precise in her view at the workers and their creative processes. No matter how distinct the individual faces and gestures appear to us, we also always see an emphatic inventory of cultural skills of an industrialized society.

A further element of artistic design is added to selection, recording and cutting, namely the staging of the exhibit inside a room. The turbine room in the Tuchmachermuseum (clothmaker museum) Bramsche is in a special way the ideal place for Rose’s work, which depicts a variety of crafts, particularly because it is not an exhibition room. Energy, which was initially created by waterwheels and later by turbines, was distributed from here. It is part of the history of the site that it was jointly used by various craftsmen and small businesses who used it in specific time-based order.

In: Colossal – Art Fact Fiction. Landschaftsverband Osnabrücker Land e.V. (ed.) Curator: Jan Hoet. Bramsche 2009.