Machine Project: Innovative Homes for Artists

Jul 12, 2010

Art21 Blog recently posted a fascinating article by Mark Allen, Founder of Machine Project in Los Angeles.  In his write-up, he discusses Machine's recent "Artist In Residency" collaboration with UCLA's Hammer Museum in which they are embedding performances, discussions, and site-specific experiences in the gallery.   These interventions range from sleep-ins to micro-performances in micro-theaters.  In the article he writes:

The Hammer residency is the most recent of several institutional collaborations Machine Project has done over the past years, including work with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and the Pomona College Museum of Art. Machine Project’s explorations of the museum as a specific context for viewing art draws on our interest in interrogating structural boundaries – between individual and institution, audience and performer, amateur and expert. As a Professor of Art at Pomona College as well the Director of Machine Project, I approach my work with the conviction that complex content can be made accessible and engaging if it is presented with enthusiasm, and if it offers multiple perspectives from which it can be approached. Machine Project facilitates collaborations among artists who treat audience experience as a primary facet of the work. This reflects a wider trend in which cultural institutions are increasingly interested in curating the experience of art, as well as the art objects.

This convergence of art and pedagogy and a shift toward greater participation has occurred over the past few decades, and finds an important public space in the art museum. The rules and customs of the museum as a cultural institution have traditionally tended to frame visitor experience as one of quiet contemplation and measured distance in relation to art objects. Machine Project’s interventions reveal this as one mode of approaching and valuing art, and suggest other kinds of less formal encounters. Our challenge at the Hammer is to develop projects that propose other ways of experiencing the museum that can be smoothly integrated into its everyday operation.
Continue reading on the Art21 Blog: Machine Project A.I.R at the Hammer.

Machine is doing great work innovating new spaces for artistic experience with integrated notions of audience/institution, amateur/expert, and participation.  They are augmenting the concept of how a museum presents art, how artist creation and experience can be embedded within the institution, and new ways audiences can experience the art. There are some excellent models there for how artists can engage and institutions can adapt.

Have other tips about innovative engagement between artists and institutions that we should know about? Send them to us at

Tags: Hammer Museum, Machine Project, Mark Allen, Artists In Residency, innovation, intervention, Art21

Sub Categories

ARTISTS: Featured Artists
ARTISTS: Business of Arts
ARTISTS: Issues & Ideas