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XYZ
by Space Station
Location: Space Station
Artist(s): XIE Molin
Date: 23 Apr - 20 Jun 2011

What is the relationship between the automatic drawing machine created by Xie Molin and "visual works" created by it? Or in what scope could this relationship be expressed more accurately. These doubts from the outside world have been temporarily set aside by the artist himself. Because for Xie Molin, these were the questions asked after he has made and begun to use the machine. While before this, only how to make one machine he conceived was all of his concerns.
 
When this doubt has not been a real question, Xie Molin's art practices were the same as many youths learning art and interacted with his personal learning life. No matter studying in domestic Central Academy of Fine Art or while studying in Edinburgh aboard, all of Xie Molin's graphic works had formal characteristics emphasizing on self-regulation of art, from which we can not only see his strong interest in the material property of the medium materials, but also find out a sense of orderliness and the visual possibilities of practice path derived from it. Although we could not deny these works more or less carried a smell of class assignments and increasingly popular new academic style, for Xie Molin's current practices, a slightly longer preceding process has clarified his aesthetics attitude to language form. What's more, during studying aboard in England, he experienced in person the inspiration brought about by the cross-border exchange between the art and nature disciplines, while this just was the motive power to drive Xie Molin to propose more than once the creation of automatic drawing machine.
 
Xie Molin's automatic drawing machine was inspired by his used carving machine. Carving machine is a very common output device used in ad décoration industry at present.  Firstly, user inputs the needed character and sets the needed font and sizes, or makes the needed vector graphics through graph-text editing processing software matching the carving ma chine and installed in the computer. After completing the design for all the needed carving contents, user sends instructions to the carving machine via computer. The most common carving object is stick note. Generally, the artists use the carving machine to combine it with flat coated and spray painting techniques so as to obtain a kind of visual effects of supreme supper level and hard edge in a the plane. Of course, Xie Molin was not the first artist who used the carving machine. But, he wanted to transform it. This was not what flash of genius gained from apple hitting on the head. Instead, it exactly corresponded to the occasionally mentioned and often overlooked foreshadowing buried deeply in relative medium tools  in the art history——the impact of the advancement of medium technology on visual art.
 
Although the carving machine's working principle is similar to the automatic drawing machine's and both of them belong to XUZ three-axis linkage computer output devices. But Xie Molin spent three years to complete the transformation from the former to the latter. The difficulty, on one hand, was limited to Xie Molin's own economic situation. On the other hand, it was due to lack of effective ways of cooperation of domestic art and technology. Just as Xie Molin's statement.

the process he made the automatic drawing machine looked very "Shanzhai". "Shanzhai" here did not mean some rhetoric in aesthetics but revealed his inherent shortages. "Shanzhai" not only described the hasty objective conditions but also presented that kind of non-scientific thinking mode he held in the initial stage. This also determined Xie Molin had to periodically realize his imagined automatic drawing machine. At present, this latest machine belongs to the second generation. Compared with the former generation, it has been very close to the modern industrial machine tool intuitively. Its substantive breakthrough is that it can automatically make arc line, create diverse spatial relationships and own acceptable process accuracy. But the second generation machine is still a "semi-automatic" machine. For example, no automatic pigment outward control system is installed in it. Therefore, the steps to put the pigment on the canvas still must be completed by manual work.
 
The completion of the second generation of the machine made Xie Molin's creation work on the automatic drawing machine temporarily come to an end of a stage. However, when Xie Molin began to turn to pay his attention to the productions of the machine, he certainly encountered the questions in the beginning of this article ——what he is practicing based on machine platform currently is performing some quality assessment of the "machine " or a kind of independent art practice on earth. If it is the latter one, his automatic drawing machine is largely likely to be identified as an alternative drawing tool and the extension of another kind of human hands. But, such questions mostly are from the operators of the gallery. The set logical origin point of the question they consider is what to sell on earth, machine or "products" produced by the machine. Just as Xie Molin's self-mockery, the machine and his follow-up practices become a relationship of "hen and egg". Interestingly, Xie Molin's self-mockery makes easily the old argument on "which came first, the egg or the chicken" associated with. However, if his practices are to be incorporated into this logic and asked, maybe, the previous question will become not so entangled. Because when facing this "genetics" problem, we will pay more attention to his whole practice procedure, while this also is the key point to the value judgments of Xie Molin's art practices. The automatic drawing machine and the follow-up practice based on this platform are actually a pure meaning extended to his previous visual experiments by Xie Molin, including the construction of diversity (material level) and accuracy appeals (expression level), while when accuracy requirements become a kind of aesthetic attitude followed by the mechanical principle, the relationship between the two shall not be viewed separately.
 
In the studio, Xie Molin put a piece of canvas on the operation table. Then, he stacked a thick of white pigment along its edge and then came back to be in front of the computer and clicked the output key on the software interface. The motor rotated and XYZ axis ran following the track calculated by the program. The serrated scraper painted a "m" shape in the pigments. Later, this work was hanged in the exhibition hall. Some audiences found the arc lines were very full with very mean heights and intervals and thus doubted what tools must be used by the artist. When they were told this work was made by a machine, the audiences showed their willing to see this machine. Although the above is only an assumption, For Xie Molin, how his zero texture "visual works" to be clear of the audiences' curiosity on the machine itself is a fundamental problem he needs to face up to in the future experiments.

- Sun Dongdong

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