Robert Rauschenberg died this year.
For now we have Robot Rauschenberg.
Well, technically speaking (which we try not to here), his name is Viktor.
Just one name, like only the finest artists, Viktor is a drawing and painting machine. He's made from bits taken from other machines, ones that were made for entirely different purposes. (I suppose he will one day describe them as his muses.)
Viktor is really an amalgam of ordinary design software and industrial motors of various kinds.
Instead of drawing graphs for presentations, Viktor creates art for the world. Or, at least, what his creator, Jurg Lehni, a Swiss engineer, believes is art.
Jurg, everything is art. Rubbish, unmade beds, you name it.
Yes, but Jurg is deadly serious about this: "We are all being sold proprietary software all the time and being told how to use it in a prescriptive way," he told the London precursor to the New York Times. "But it is possible, if we know how, to bend it to our own will and to use it in a different way. The capacity of this software is not anticipated by us and it often has poetic potential."
If only some great software company had secured the tagline "software with poetic potential", I believe the world would be a far more beautiful place.
And now visitors to London's Institute of Contemporary Art will be able to enjoy Viktor's poetic potential as if they were in the artist's studio.
During the run of A Recent History of Writing and Drawing, Viktor will collaborate with architects, designers, artists, and a shopkeeper, to create moving imagery.
Tuomas Toivonen, a Finnish electronic composer and architect (there are not many Finns who embrace both these disciplines), will play the Hyalonium, a glass electronic harp, while Viktor will blast paint at a black wall behind him.
As for the shopkeeper, well, her name is Leila McAllister and she will be up on stage with two sustainable materials and construction experts- and Viktor- to propose new ways of distributing locally-produced food.
I think you will have to just be there to fully appreciate Leila.
However, perhaps the most stellar night, might turn out to be July 17, when Viktor will debut with Paul Elliman, a graphic designer. Together, they will reinterpret Elliman's recent whispering gallery podcast.
Strangely, it's not so easy to get hold of Viktor's collected works, and the one I display here may or may not be one of his best.
Still, you will surely agree with me that art in action, art that brings the spontaneous joy out of mundane technologies, beats the morbidity of still life or the arbitrary Hammer Horror otherworld of Surrealism any day.
One day, they'll be giving art awards for paintings created using Vista (well, maybe Vista and a Ford Edsel engine), mark my words.