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Poop machine
November 19, 2002 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Cloaca While it's a shame that contemporary "art" seems to require some form of bodily waste product in order to be considered an act of genius, I have to say that this particular one is fascinating. It eats a meal, digests it, and then ... does the obvious.
posted by oissubke (38 comments total)

 
I was just talking about this word the other day, along with the corresponding anotomical orifice. I don't like the idea about that chickensh*t and chicken eggs come from a swiss army knife of a body part.
Also, I am disappointed that Chewbacca's cloaca doesn't rhyme.
posted by putzface_dickman at 11:53 AM on November 19, 2002


If they wanted a machine that sat around on it's ass, consuming and digesting food into shit-piles why didn't they just use a real human? (It's not even Wednesday and I'm already misanthropic...)
posted by ao4047 at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2002


wow. even a dedicated art history major like me couldn't penetrate the tangled web of high-flown ontological nonsense spun by the curator. the artist "attempts to replace an iconography of narcissism and power with one in which discomfort and pain are tangibly present"? face it, dude, it's a poop machine. still pretty cool, but not as cool as the uberorgan.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:57 AM on November 19, 2002


serafinapekkala, you are my new hero. Hardest I've laughed in days.
posted by vraxoin at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2002


Not true Oissubke! Some works require decomposing food products! I, for one, am a huge fan of Cloaca.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2002


While it is odd that "contemporary "art" seems to require some form of bodily waste product in order to be considered an act of genius", it is odder still, to me, that so many science projects are now being considered art. The preserved sliced sheep, the preserved flayed corpses, the preserved whales, and now the poop machine are really just biology exhibits that are called "art" because they are in an art museum instead of a natural history museum. Whatever - if it gets people thinking about science (especially art-types) - it's OK with me.
posted by trigfunctions at 12:31 PM on November 19, 2002


While it's a shame that contemporary "art" seems to require some form of bodily waste product in order to be considered an act of genius...

It's a shame the breadth of contemporary art gets reduced to a few shopworn "bodily waste product" examples by its critics (Oooh! Ooooh! Piss Christ! All new art sucks!). That being said, this is pretty cool, as "bodily waste product" examples go...
posted by jalexei at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2002


especially art-types

oh COME ON.. one thing - art types and scientists have more in common that most people. true artists need as much science (process) and craft (science) to make art. and people who dig on art dig on theory, all that. if you mean introduces science to stupid people then i disagree. stupid people will just sit back chuckling, "dood, hheheh, it POOPS"

i, for one, think it's awesome that it poops.
posted by Peter H at 12:38 PM on November 19, 2002


I'm confused, why exactly is it that science and art can't work together? Does science always have to be cold and drab and art always about form rather than function? Some of the most beautiful things in the universe aren't art, and some of the greatest scientific minds in history were great artists, I bet DaVinci would find a super nova quite beautiful!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2002


this is a dp (can't find the link because of time-outs and i remember it's phrased in an obscure manner, so i wouldn't worry about missing it), but it's one of my most beloved projects, so i don't mind seeing it again. for what it's worth, the artist also has a website up, where you can purchase some of the work ... i'll tell you what -- if i had a spare grand to spend, i would certainly buy one.

it is odder still, to me, that so many science projects are now being considered art.

the field of visual arts is a discipline that has, in the last century, opened its arms to works that many people would say 'belong' to other fields. if you talk to some of the people doing this sort of 'cross-genre' work, they'll tell you they think it's an important means of introducing accessible criticism and discussion to fields that many people find obtuse or otherwise inscrutable. most people involved in these arts these days tend to avoid drawing strict lines between disciplines, lest someone accuse them of being a modernist (and no-one wants that, apparently.)
posted by fishfucker at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2002


thats what i was sayin, pollomacho, in response to trigfunctions
posted by Peter H at 12:51 PM on November 19, 2002


> i, for one, think it's awesome that it poops.

Is it more awesome or less awesome than, for instance, a cow? One notes that a cow poops with great regularity in the complete absence of either an artist or a NIH grant. Wouldn't it be awesome to eliminate the middle-people?
posted by jfuller at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2002


in order, yes, no.
it would be equally awesome if a cow painted.
that a sculpture poops, is awesome
posted by Peter H at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2002


Bored with poo. That's all I have to say about that.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2002


RE: art that poops.

How terribly clever. Next.

I'll be impressed when the machine can power itself. And hunt for its own food. Art curators, say.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:02 PM on November 19, 2002


More on defaecating machines (no new thing under the sun, etc): Farting robots and shitting ducks. Further detail on Vaucanson's duck in this Guardian article, Living dolls, which mentions Robert-Houdin's conclusion that the duck's output was fake. This recalls the Kenner Toys Baby Alive: the executive who approved it, Bernard Loomis, says, "Jeep Kuhn and his group presented a mock up of a doll that had 'complete peristaltic action' ... It was one of the two most lonesome decisions I ever made".
posted by raygirvan at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2002


If you prefer the cow to the poop machine, you're more than welcome to look at, or buy, one of those. It's cheaper, too.

Why do people who don't like contemporary art feel compelled to put quote marks around the word art, instead of just saying they don't like it? "While it's a shame that a lot of old "art" was two-dimensional, Vermeer is actually kind of interesting."
posted by liam at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2002


it is odder still, to me, that so many science projects are now being considered art

.... which is clearly, at least at some level, a comment upon our modern obsession with looking at the world scientifically. In other ages, art was inspired by astrology, philosophy, myth, and religion.

This was a collaboration with food scientists, who presumably had their own reasons for helping build an artificial digestive system. And for neither one of them is this really meant as an "awesome" achievement, but one of a more contemplative variety. I don't know what my reaction would be to viewing this in person, but I imagine it would involve a lot of thinking about my own stomach, and what I can get just from reading about it is a more ... direct mental connection between food and ... excreta.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 PM on November 19, 2002


Art critics would be better fodder.

Cows are pretty good, but I think the whole farm animal thing is done, that's so 1995, we've moved on. Now if Cloaca could get some sort of flu bug....
posted by Pollomacho at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2002


but I imagine it would involve a lot of thinking about my own stomach

What would make an even cooler project is feeding the sculpture nothing but fast food until it breaks down.
posted by archimago at 1:17 PM on November 19, 2002


Why do people who don't like contemporary art feel compelled to put quote marks around the word art, instead of just saying they don't like it?

It's not that I don't like contemporary art - the quote marks indicate that these science experiments really push the definition of "art", and that these "artists" feel the need to show their "art" in an "art" museum instead of a science musem. I know that art is in the eye of the artist, but it is a strange commentary on modern life that a corpse is "art".
posted by trigfunctions at 1:19 PM on November 19, 2002


i for one am sick of corpses bein all "science" n shiii
posted by Peter H at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2002


push the definition of "art"

there is no definition of art.

feel better now?


posted by fishfucker at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2002


try as i might, i could not stop thinking about the Poop Machine as the day wears on. i am now officially intrigued (which i guess makes it Art not art or "art"), especially by the title. a cloaca is an orifice used for both excretion and copulation/birth, possessed only by a few animals, the Monotremes. Most are found in Australia, like the platypus (hold all other cloaca/Aussie jokes til the end). what is the non-digetive/excretory meaning of this artwork? why not just call it "Intestine," or "Garbage In Garbage Out," or, yes, "Poop Machine"? where are the other cloacal functions?

oh, and thanks lots, vraxoin. *:-)
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2002


whoops, where i wrote "animals" that should be "mammals."
*ducks from the lash of the art vs. science brigade!*
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:39 PM on November 19, 2002


sorry. that must have sounded incredibly snarky; the (wrongful, if you ask me) assumption that there's a static and reliable defintion of "art" is an incredible pet peeve of mine.

typically, it's put forward by people who want to be able to say what they don't like isn't art, and what they do like is art, because these folks assume that because we classify something as 'art' it gets some sort of chocolately goodness that prevents it from being bad.

hey -- tinfoil on a shoebox is art; it's just (often, but not always) bad art.

most people think the closest you can come to a definition of art is by gauging the creator's intent for it to exist within the visual art canon, but that's still a fairly useless measure.

lastly : i'll agree that placing work in an art museum *does* greatly influence context of the piece, but i don't think this particular piece would be better off in museum devoted to science history -- the piece's main concern doesn't seem to be with the mechanics of digestion (as i see it).
posted by fishfucker at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2002


serafinapekkala: supposedly delvoye named it for 'cloaca maxima'; the ancient roman sewer system. [artnet link]

[poop art]
posted by fishfucker at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2002


I guess a painting of a person is better suited for an anthropology museum or a picture of a bridge better in an architecture museum. Maybe this machine has some other function rather than just provoking thought about one's tummy. Maybe it is making some sort of artistic statement, maybe its not, maybe that is the statement. Maybe its saying that something as debased as poo can have a beauty or statement worthy of a fine art museum rather than being relegated to the science museum or a laboratory, maybe not. Seems to have gotten a pretty good reaction anyway!

One notes that a cow poops with great regularity in the complete absence of either an artist or a NIH grant.

Before you go casting stones at grants remember that cows do not require ANY funding, they eat grass, as soon as you can feed an artist on grass or pay for their art supplies on it, please let us know, I'll be opening a gallery then! Also cows are not see through, so until we bio-engineer a see-through cow (perhaps splicing cow and clear fish genes) then Cloaca will have to do!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:48 PM on November 19, 2002


In response to those addressing me, I will say that I am not saying that the poop machine or the corpses are not art, or even that they are bad art. Duchamp's urinal and hat rack fall into the same strange category. They are obviously effective in provoking thought, which may be one of their intended purposes. My main point is that it is very strange that people are going to see these devices because they are displayed in an art museum. Would the same patrons go see the same exhibits if they were in a natural history museum? I bet many would not.
posted by trigfunctions at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2002


> Before you go casting stones at grants remember that
> cows do not require ANY funding, they eat grass, as
> soon as you can feed an artist on grass or pay for their
> art supplies on it, please let us know, I'll be opening a
> gallery then!

I'm not arguing for less respect for artists but rather for more respect for cows. Let's have some parity here. Cows have customers. Artist (in the main, and always excepting the ones who paint pictures of Elvis on velvet, and landscapes in which all the foliage is done with little sponges) do not, so they have to get grants. How long would we keep cows around if they had to be grant-supported? My feeling is that a grant-supported artist deserves exactly the same respect as a grant-supported cow. No more, certainly no less.
posted by jfuller at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2002


Err, folks...

Are you sure that this isn't a joke?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:03 PM on November 19, 2002


The website slogan "Buy Feces Now!" rivals the machine in terms of sheer brilliance.
posted by hama7 at 7:38 PM on November 19, 2002


I went to see it and was underwhelmed at first...i thought it was funny tho, that most if not all the food it was given was from fancy/hip/art-world-frequented restaurants...When I found that out, i saw it as a clever ("biting the hand"?) statement on artists, curators, and the gallery and museum system in addition to the whole scientific process thing....

...Meals for Cloaca provided by Markt, Quilty's, Jerry's, Barolo, Savoy, and others...from the website...
posted by amberglow at 7:49 PM on November 19, 2002


The process thing is the thing, not the poo.

Sagan (in Cosmos, maybe?) wrote about how a person might die of starvation (or get really hungry) if they had to consciously sit down and write out in longhand all the chemical reactions that go into the digestion of an apple before they could eat it. You don't have to do that; it just happens. A piece like this one spells out something people take for granted. After all, it's not a simple matter of food in, poo out; much happens inbetween.
I can't see how making people more aware of what goes on in their own bodies on a continual basis is a bad thing, even if it's distasteful to some and overhyped or trendy to others.

It should remind you that you are alive, and that systems of hideous complexity keep you that way with no more effort on your part than shoving Doritos into your pie-hole. Also, the assembly-line aspect of an essential bodily function reminds me of this film. Maybe it also reminds me that I'm mortal; every factory shuts down and goes dark sooner or later. Food for thought, I guess.

Having said all that, I'd love to give it an ulcer.
posted by trondant at 11:07 PM on November 19, 2002


Well said trondant.

I think the fact that this piece has prompted so many different, interesting interprepations here (and so presumably elsewhere) makes it totally successful and worthwhile project.

Government funding for stupider things than Cloaca gets approved everyday. If this was the daftest thing my tax dollars had ever gone towards I'd be more than satisfied with the way things were being run, cows or no cows.
posted by backOfYourMind at 11:44 PM on November 19, 2002


interprepations ?

Worst.spelling.mistake.ever - sorry
posted by backOfYourMind at 11:45 PM on November 19, 2002


One one blissful day this year I went directly from Cloaca to the Uberorgan (which was at the Ace gallery in downtown NY).

Cloaca was quite an interesting science project. Feeding it with a rotating menu from local restaraunts was clever. Also, the way everyone gathered round the "output" device and laughed reminded me, in an endearing way, of the fascination with which parents regard their babies' first acts. "Oh look, he's pooping!" Only it's a machine.

All in all, however, the Uberorgan was better.
posted by oddovid at 4:24 AM on November 20, 2002


When I went to see the machine poop, it was standing room only for the 20 minutes before the big event. Everyone in the
room obviously knew what we were waiting for, and yet everyone screamed when the poop came out.

The guard said that some days the machine had the runs when it was fed bad food.

Uberorgan was great, but nothing beats Hiro Yamagata's show.
posted by armacy at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2002


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