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Mr Monkey sees Human Error at the CAC, 9th March

Mr Monkey looking at the Household & Utreras Photocopier

Mr Monkey looking at the Household & Utreras Scanner

Mr Monkey viewed from inside the Scanner
Mr Monkey looking at the Household & Utreras Printer Mr Monkey scampered into the Northern Quarter to see Human Error, the latest exhibition at the Chinese Arts Centre Human Error is an exhibition of four bizarre machines created by the London-based design collective Household and Dario Utreras (an ex-member of Household) to explore the relationships between machines and the people using them.

All four machines need at least two people to work them, and the idea is to highlight modern reliance on mass produced machinery.

Instructions on how to use each machine are given in useful and rather funny videos.

The first machine Mr Monkey inspected was the Photocopier, which uses a complicated arrangement of wooden beams and biros to allow one person to make twenty or so copies of any picture they fancy at a time. Sort of, anyway, as they need one person per biro (or just one very nimble person) to change the colours. Mr Monkey thinks the basic mechanism is a pantograph (used since 1603 to copy and rescale diagrams); strangely, given the nature of the exhibition, it's the first pantograph that actually works that Mr Monkey or his humans have ever seen.

Photobooth is a photobooth that relies on users remembering to switch a light off at the right time, which Mr Rik failed to do. There isn't actually a camera in the photobooth, just a long roll of transparent plastic and a felt tip pen. The quality of the picture may vary.

The Household version of a Printer is a sort of yarn-based dot-matrix machine, involving coloured yarns, needles, and a more-or-less complicated diagram showing what goes where. Mr Monkey had a go with a needle and some thread but thought that other people had done things in the wrong order and slightly spoilt the effect. Humans can be so unreliable at times. Mr Monkey noticed that no-one had filled in their timesheets properly.

Mr Monkey thought the Scanner looked rather like some kind of medieval torture device, but it wasn't. It was Mr Monkey's favourite machine, largely because all he had to do was sit on a perspex panel while Mr Rik and Miss Carol took it in turns to lie down on a little moving truck. The person lying down had to draw Mr Monkey from below; the person standing up has to use a winch to drag the lying down person through the machine slowly enough for them to use a pen to copy everything they can see onto the perspex.

Mr Monkey thinks it's fairly safe to say that companies using Household and Daria Utreras would have far fewer opportunites for embarrassment at their office parties. Or everyone would have to put more effort into becoming embarrassed.

All in all, Mr Monkey hadn't had anywhere near as much fun in a gallery since Recorders at the City Art Gallery.

When he'd made his humans demonstrate their capability for error on all four machines, Mr Monkey nipped along to the MCDC to see I'm Electric, You're Electric.

A Beautiful Moment runs until April 30th 2011.

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