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The Love Machine II

Anna Munster and Michele Barker, The Love Machine II (2008-2011).
Anna Munster and Michele Barker, The Love Machine II (2008-2011).
Anna Munster and Michele Barker, The Love Machine II (2008-2011).

The Love Machine II

The inspiration for The Love Machine II came from a photo-booth first used throughout east-southeast Asia in the late 1990's. These booths used software to capture and merge the portraits of two subjects to produce an image of a baby’s face; digitally generating virtual offspring which shared the features of its "parents". The resultant image could then be altered and tailered through racial and gender subsets. The Japanese manufacturers of the machine, while capitalising on the novelty-value of the booths, insist that the oppertunity for a couple to "meet" their own machine-generated progenitor - constitutes an invaluable service for those engaged in matrimonial selection.

The Love Machine II is an installation which seeks to deconstruct the aesthetic, technological and cultural ramifications of this unique and playful inculcation of eugenics. The installation incorporates five still images, which display detailed enlargements of images generated by the original Love Machine. These passport size photos have been scaled up dramatically so as to overwhelm and envelop the viewer. The poor quality of the images is amplified in this process; the artists deliberately play with the contrast between this lacklustre quality and the promise of perfection that the rhetoric of the machine espouses. These images magnify so as to blow apart the social prejudices embedded in the process of this form of imaging: the "right" couple; the "perfect child", etc. In the context of contemporary debates surrounding the capacity of processes like in-utero testing and genetic engineering to make better those already desireable human characteristics and qualities, this work speaks to the potential misuses and abuses of technologies which have the power to fundamentally change us as individuals and as a species.

The Love Machine II was been exhibited in Face to Face: Portraiture in the Digital Age, an Asialink touring exhibition visiting Bangkok, 2010; Singapore, 2010; and the Philippines, 2011. It was also featured in an Australian regional gallery national tour that took place between 2008 and 2010.

Project date

2008 to 2011

Research Area