'Pilot:Drone:Committee:Target' – Andrew Barco on 'The Androne'

ANDREW BARCO:  The Androne: or Semi-autonomous Flying Hurdy (after Tatlin)  (detail),   2016, wood, musical instrument parts

ANDREW BARCO: The Androne: or Semi-autonomous Flying Hurdy (after Tatlin) (detail), 2016, wood, musical instrument parts

Instruments (scientific and musical)

I keep going back, through so many of my projects, to an engagement with the concept of the "instrument." It is fascinating to me that this word can mean, in the context of a scientific instrument a device that pulls out of the muck of endless possibility one singular answer. But musical instruments point the other way--they are tools for producing an infinite diversity of meanings. The paradox of the instrument for me points at the struggle within art to nail down how and in what way art produces meaning. This has taken me from building an instrument that allows me to see through the eyes, and hear through the ears of a dear (Acteon Project), to reproducing an instrument imagined by a delusional prisoner to be influencing his thoughts (The Air-Loom), and also making an instrument for phenomenological contemplation of time (Imminence). The Androne: or Semi-autonomous Flying Hurdy-gurdy (after Tatlin) takes this ongoing conversation and raises the stakes by bringing in a moral dimension to the philosophic questions.

Speculative Fiction and Engagement with Global Politics

I have been developing a strategy through Imminence and The Androne, to take a stupid joke or pun and run with it in total seriousness (the seriousness of a craftsman) until that joke is no longer a shallow laugh but an entrance to a whole world cracked open by the art. In this way, I'm following speculative fiction techniques, following the radical political imagination of Afro-futurism (for example), following art world tricksters like Beuys. At stake for me is the question of hope. In so many situations today, we can't even imagine a hopeful outcome, and if we can't imagine it, it can't come true. Art is a way of breaking the walls of the imagination, just as important a political space as any other. The work I've been pursuing since making the drone has been going down this rabbit hole--making work about crazy Russian Futurists and their dreams of peace (in Space!), developing a war memorial based on an ancient roman sci-fi novel, and other dreams down this line.

These are scary times for our democracy. These are times when we need to remind ourselves how our actions impact others around the world, and to stand beside the people who need our support. But in that, we cannot forget that the poetic gesture, the humorous gesture, has the power to cut through ideas that have hardened like plaque in the arteries of our culture, that keep us trapped in unproductive conversations.


Pilot:Drone:Committee:Target opens Friday, February 10, 2017 with a reception from 6-9pm, at which MICHAEL ZERANG will perform with The Androne on his own hurdy-gurdy-esque instrument, Queequeg's Coffin.