The MUTEK Recorder
Episode 06: Jürg Lehni
Claire L. Evans
Jürg Lehni
Jürg Lehni
Making his mark on digital art over the last two decades, Jürg Lehni has mobilized Hektor, Rita, and Viktor, a series (2002-) of quirky drawing machines, as platforms for research on representation and histories of technology. Parallel to his robotic storytelling, the Zurich-based artist and designer has made open software for others, including the prescient Adobe Illustrator plug-in Scriptographer (2001-12) and, more recently, the browser-based “Swiss Army knife of vector graphics” Paper.js (2011-).
“I often struggle with defining my position between art, research, and technology. I like using the metaphor of crop rotation to describe how I keep the fields fruitful.”
Jürg Lehni, on framing interdisciplinary practice
“Questioning the role of hardware, I created a series of custom-made plotting devices that draw with an imperfection that is almost human. These machines struggle with the task—there’s friction, there’s gravity, there’s instability.”
Jürg Lehni, on how embraces fallibility in the machines he designs
“When Hector went to the MoMA in 2008, the drawing became about its own motion diagrams. I explained that it takes an ‘Elastic Mind’—the exhibition’s title—to be able to read it.”
Jürg Lehni, on turning the brief to render the MoMA exhibition entrance title “Design and the Elastic Mind” on its head