Gravitational Assertions. Yves Netzhammer / Gramazio Kohler Research

4 December 2019 – 15 March 2020, Collaboration: Petrus Aejmelaeus-Lindström and Nicolas Feihl

Intervention at ETH Zurich Main Hall until 12 December 2019

Artifical intelligence is encroaching ever further into all possible areas of our lives. Many of the questions in this regard are about the human aspects of robots. What happens when we allow the machine to anticipate and perpetuate what the human mind has initiated? This is a topic that is also relevant to art. How can robots be integrated into artistic production? Who or what determines the form? How do we deal with the resulting uncertainty about individual authorship?

6 hours in a time-lapse: In a nightly action, a robot in the ETH main hall laid out a monumental drawing with a single rope of about 1000 m, based on motifs by Yves Netzhammer © Yves Netzhammer / Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zürich

The Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich frequently presents exhibition projects that are set on the interface with the disciplines taught at the ETH. In this light, a collaboration emerged between the renowned Swiss artist Yves Netzhammer (*1970) and the internationally respected Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, Gramazio Kohler Research. In the course of the initiated exchange, it quickly became clear that the thread plays a central role in the joint project. On the one hand, this material repeatedly occurs in the visual world of the artist, while, on the other hand, architects Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler also resort, in their research, to meshes of string, yarn and fibre. The result is a large-scale installation involving robots developed at the ETH for digital fabrication in the field of architecture. The equipment has been enhanced to perform new functions. While one of them continually sets out lines according to drawings by Netzhammer, the other simultaneously constructs an equilibrium-determined mesh-like structure of suspended threads within the space. In a constantly recurring process of built-up, collapsing and newly created structures, the machine-calculated forms are paired with human-inspired creations – thereby addressing the fragile relationship between man and machine.

The thread in three-dimensional space, however, also has its equivalent in the form of lines on paper and so, in addition, we gain an insight into the fruits of the artist’s approach to the printing process: together with printer Arno Hassler (Atelier de gravure, Moutier) Yves Netzhammer has, for the very first time in his artistic career, explored the possibilities of intaglio. The result of these experimentations is an edition of prints, presented in the corridor along with an extensive series of variants.

Curator: Alexandra Barcal, Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich