Tuesday 3rd July - Saturday 7th July 12-4pm

ELAN is the name of Aid & Abet’s creative studio space at the heart of the CB1 development near the train station in Cambridge.

Inspired by ‘The Atelier Brancusi: A work of art in its own right’ and Daniel Buren’s influential essay ‘The Function of the Studio’ this 3-year project takes as a starting place ‘the studio’ and explores how artworks proximity to one another and their relationship with the site in which they are made enables a ‘true understanding’ of the artwork.

ELAN is a hybrid space that overlaps studio, research lab and presentation space, designed to share with the public both the process and the results of artistic experiments. Elan is run by Artists Sarah Evans and David Kefford.

Aid & Abet

Mill Park

Unit 1, Meade House, 2




For this exhibition, Alex Pearl is work is presenting a series of works that have led the thinking for his PHD: Breakdown: Mechanical Dysfunction and Anthropomorphism. Breakdown consists of machines that variously explore the gestures of breakdown and their role in the forming of human machine relationships. In an action that is performative but not quite a performance pearl will be present for the duration of the show maintaining, preparing and reconfiguring his breaking-machines. These machines have been through several exhibitions and bear the marks of their dysfunction and repair. In this the final exhibition, there is a simultaneous sense of survivorship but also of the death rattle of three years of practice led research.

The breaking-machines presented in this exhibition are further subdivided into the following overlapping typologies: the approaching-breakdown-machine, the video-machine and the remade-breaking-machine.

a. The approaching-breakdown-machine is a machine built to give the appearance of nearness to breakdown without truly breaking down. This is achieved by creating mechanisms with increased degrees of freedom introduced via loose joints, deformed or overly flexible parts and mechanical unbalance. In moving away from ‘true’ function, the approaching-breakdown-machine will often exhibit an erratic range of irregular motions that appear unsustainable. However, in many cases these machines will continue to function for long periods of time while exhibiting seizes and play in their mechanisms. In the context of exhibition, the approaching-breakdown-machine is often supported by the ministrations of the artist who is continually involved in a process of pulling the machine from the brink of breakdown. Through this process this type of breaking-machine allows a continued multi-sensory engagement between human and machine as it approaches breakdown.

b. The video-machine is typically a looped, single-channel video displayed on a monitor. This machine allows the continual rerunning of the process of breakdown of either a pre-existing mechanical device, such as an electric fan, or of an approaching-breakdown-machine that has achieved actual breakdown. The video-machine is a repeating machine that makes breakdown its ghostly product.

c. The remade-breaking-machine is a product of the relationship of artist, machine and exhibition. During their exhibition, Pearl is regularly present in the space adapting, or bringing the machines back to function. Often this involves the complete dismantling of broken machines and their reconfiguration into ‘new’ machines. Thus, the remade-breaking-machine becomes a physical marker of the processes of breakdown and repair, a marker that confirms the transience of machine and artist.