Entering the Machine Zone

2017 | MIxed Media and installation

Entering the Machine Zone (2017)

Shown as part of ‘Are We All Addicts Now?’ (2017) at Furtherfield.

Entering the Machine Zone (2017) takes it’s title from Natasha Dow Schull’s scorching analysis of slot machine gambling in Las Vegas. She coins the term to refer to the dissociative state that she identifies as the the driver behind problem gambling as opposed to money – a trance like zone where all the cares and pressures of every day life fall away. It was this description that most resonated with Beales’ experience of hours parsing thousands of images on social media during prolonged bouts of insomnia. Here the spinning reels of the slot machine are brought together with images selected from online platforms – each image (split into 3 across the 3 spinning reels) refers to various anxieties and neuroses that Beales’ relates to. Activated by a motion sensor triggered by crossing in front of the work, the reels slow to a halt, triggering differing sonic responses depending on whether two or three images match. EMZ features a specially designed seating area for a sole audience member – a suspended seat made out of suicide prevention netting. The seating rocks and sways in a comforting manner but references the netting that Foxconn (one of the biggest producers of electronic devices in China) erected around their workers’ dorms in response to spats of mass suicides. Our constant appetite for digital devices and information has a human cost.

Mixed media installation with interactive moving image, dimensions variable.

Credit: AV Design: Rob Prouse and Tom Merrell

With thanks to: Furtherfield, Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England and the BF Skinner Foundation