Survival Research Laboratories

Inconsiderate fantasies of negative acceleration characterized by sacrifices of a non-consensual nature

Jan 6 — Feb 10, 2018
New York, Downtown

Marlborough is pleased (and slightly nervous) to present Inconsiderate Fantasies of Negative Acceleration Characterized by Sacrifices of a Non-Consensual Nature by the legendary Survival Research Laboratories. The exhibition, the first solo presentation by SRL in a commercial gallery, comprises eight kinetic sculptures dating from 1986 to the present, along with video documentation of past performances in which these machines were engaged. 

Arising from San Francisco’s emergent technological revolution in the late 1970’s, SRL—an amorphous crew of indeterminate number led by the visionary Mark Pauline—can be seen to represent a robust counterpoint to the convenience app and frictionless capitalism that Silicon Valley has enabled. While the tech sector has naturally moved toward smaller, faster and cleaner Pauline has maintained a visceral, humanized vision of machines. His robots are built from raw and battered steel and lurch, shudder and smash rather than gliding effortlessly. They are inefficient and fallible, and sacrifice themselves as readily as they destroy. 

Historically, the machines have been made from purloined and available materials (“Obtanium” in SRL parlance) beginning with simple bottling automation mechanics from a defunct brewery and extending to Oculus Rift. The Spine Robot, a trunk-like appendage with a claw and whose hyper-articulated movement is enabled by of-the-moment carbon fiber cable, is operated remotely and can grasp objects with a surprising delicacy. 

Other works eschew technological nitpicking for sheer displays of power. The Pitching Machine, for example, employs a 500 cubic-inch Cadillac Eldorado engine, linked to a sequence of spinning tires, that is capable of hurling a standard two-by-four at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Violence and danger are materials in Pauline’s work, and fear is often a reasonable response. The artist and viewer collectively amplifying and refracting the American Way. 

Already a hero in the global counterculture, and an inspiration to generations of influential thinkers from William Gibson to WIRED Magazine, Mark Pauline has been historically less visible within the art world. This exhibition aims to emphasize the raw power and beauty of the sculptures as objects that we can now safely inspect. Here, their intricate, complex construction and menacing design is temporarily in repose, while daring to dream of roaming a respectable sculpture park near you. 

Survival Research Laboratories was conceived of and founded by Mark Pauline in November 1978. Since its inception SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 55 mechanized presentations in the United States, Europe and Asia. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.

Works

Survival research laboratories, inconsiderate fantasies of negative acceleration characterized by sacrifices of a non consensual nature installation view 1 pierre le hors
Survival Research Laboratories posters and ephemera. Photo: Pierre Le Hors.
Srl, split head, 2017, steel, aluminum, polychrome, remote control, 29 x 25 x 24 in., 73.7 x 63.5 x 61 cm, cnon 59.732 pierre le hors
Split Head, 2017, steel, aluminum, polychrome, remote control, 29 × 25 × 24 in., 73.7 × 63.5 × 61 cm
Srl, the big walker, 1986 2017, steel, aluminum, plastic, dyneema rope, remote control, electric powered, 104 x 133 x 92 in., 264.2 x 337.8 x 233.7 cm, cnon 59.718 pierre le hors
The Big Walker, 1986-2017, steel, aluminum, plastic, Dyneema rope, remote control, electric powered, 133 × 104 × 92 in., 337.8 × 264.2 × 233.7 cm
Srl, running machine, 1992, steel, aluminum, plastic, remote controller, gas powered hydrostatic drive, 84 x 123 x 80 in., 213.4 x 312.4 x 203.2 cm, cnon 59.716 walter wlodarczyk
Running Machine, 1992, steel, aluminum, plastic, remote controller, gas-powered hydrostatic drive, 84 × 123 × 80 in., 213.4 × 312.4 × 203.2 cm
Srl, running machine (detail 3), 1992, steel, aluminum, plastic, remote controller, gas powered hydrostatic drive, 84 x 123 x 80 in., 213.4 x 312.4 x 203.2 cm, cnon 59.716
Detail: Running Machine, 1992, steel, aluminum, plastic, remote controller, gas-powered hydrostatic drive, 84 × 123 × 80 in., 213.4 × 312.4 × 203.2 cm
Srl, spine robot, 2012 2014, steel, aluminum, plastic, dyneema rope, remote control, electric and gas powered, 125 x 125 x 90 in., 317.5 x 317.5 x 228.6 cm, cnon 59.717 walter wlodarczyk
Spine Robot, 2012-2014, steel, aluminum, plastic, Dyneema rope, remote control, electric and gas powered, 125 × 125 × 90 in., 317.5 × 317.5 × 228.6 cm
Srl, track robot, 2015, aluminum, steel, plastic, rubber, remote control and computer, 43 x 21 x 51 in., 109.2 x 53.3 x 129.5 cm, cnon 59.715 pierre le hors
Track Robot, 2015, aluminum, steel, plastic, rubber, remote control and computer, 43 × 21 × 51 in., 109.2 × 53.3 × 129.5 cm
Srl, pitching machine (view 2), 1999 2017, steel, cast iron, aluminum, rubber, plastic and remote control, 98 x 87 x 179 in., 248.9 x 221 x 454.7 cm, cnon 59.697 pierre le hors
Pitching Machine, 1999-2017, steel, cast iron, aluminum, rubber, plastic and remote control, 98 x 87 x 179 in., and Pitching Machine Chamber, 2017, steel, lexan, wood, 86 × 112 × 64 in., 218.4 × 284.5 × 162.6 cm
Srl, mr. satan head, 2007, nickel steel, stainless steel, ceramic wool, and remote controller, 42 x 24 x 29 in.,106.7 x 61 x 73.3 cm, cnon 59.724
Detail: Dule Mule, 2007, nickel steel, stainless steel, ceramic wool and remote controller, 42 x 24 x 29 in. and Dule Mule, 2007, steel, aluminum, plastic, remote controller, 148 × 55 × 71 in., 375.9 × 139.7 × 180.3 cm
Srl, pitching machine (view 5), 1999 2017, steel, cast iron, aluminum, rubber, plastic and remote control, 98 x 87 x 179 in., 248.9 x 221 x 454.7 cm, cnon 59.697
Pitching Machine, 1999-2017, steel, cast iron, aluminum, rubber, plastic and remote control, 98 × 87 × 179 in., 248.9 × 221 × 454.7 cm
Srl, rotary jaws with squirrel eyes, 1987, steel, electronics, plexi glass, squirrels, 80 x 41 x 40 in., 203.2 x 104.1 x 101.6 cm, cnon 59.729 pierre le hors
Rotary Jaws with Squirrel Eyes, 1987, steel, electronics, plexi-glass, squirrels, 80 × 41 × 40 in., 203.2 × 104.1 × 101.6 cm
Srl, pitching machine chamber (detail 1), 2017, steel, lexan, wood, 86 x 112 x 64 in., 218.4 x 284.5 x 162.6 cm, cnon 59.698
Detail: Pitching Machine Chamber, 2017, steel, lexan, wood, 86 × 112 × 64 in., 218.4 × 284.5 × 162.6 cm
Srl, fanuc robot arm, 1992, steel, aluminum, hd television, fanuc rt3 robot, electronics, 92 x 72 x 60 in., 233.7 x 182.9 x 152.4 cm, cnon 59.723 pierre le hors
Fanuc Robot Arm, 1992, steel, aluminum, HD television, Fanuc RT3 robot, electronics, 92 × 72 × 60 in., 233.7 × 182.9 × 152.4 cm
Srl, fanuc robot arm (view 2), 1992, steel, aluminum, hd television, fanuc rt3 robot, electronics, 92 x 72 x 60 in., 233.7 x 182.9 x 152.4 cm, cnon 59.723 pierre le hors
Fanuc Robot Arm, 1992, steel, aluminum, HD television, Fanuc RT3 robot, electronics, 92 × 72 × 60 in., 233.7 × 182.9 × 152.4 cm

Press

How mark pauline critiques corporate power with an army of otherworldly machines survival research laboratories by lee devito detroit metro times marlborough
Survival research laboratories mark pauline by aaron horst artreview marlborough
Machine art that shoots flames and rips stuff apart survival research laboratories mark pauline by chris cobb hyperallergic marlborough
Survival research laboratories inconsiderate fantasies of negative acceleration characterized by sacrifices of a non consensual nature by rob goyanes art agenda marlborough
Mr satan head by survival research laboratories marlborough contemporary new york
The robots are coming and they have some issues survival research laboratories mark pauline by carlo mccormick garage marlborough
This artist builds high tech robots then has them attack each other survival research laboratories mark pauline by scott indrisek artsy marlborough
San francisco counterculture perennials take chelsea survival research laboratories mark pauline by natasha boas cultured mag marlborough
Pitching machine detail by survival research laboratories marlborough contemporary new york gallery
Robot wars mark pauline and survival research laboratories by helen stoilas the art newspaper marlborough
Survival research laboratories in nyc mark pauline pascal spengemann office magazine marlborough
Fire breathing robots bring anarchy to a chelsea art gallery mark pauline survival research laboratories by daniel mcdermon the new york times marlborough
9 art events to attend in new york city this week survival research laboratories mark pauline artnews marlborough