As a bank clerk in Auburn, New York, William Seward Burroughs (1857-1898) became convinced that banks needed a machine that would add figures accurately and print entries and sums. He went to St. Louis, took a job in a machine shop, and began tinkering. By 1891, he had several patents and an adding machine sufficiently reliable for use in banks. It was sold by a firm called American Arithmometer Company, later renamed Burroughs.
The photograph above shows the first model sold by the American Arithmometer Company. It measures 8 cm. x 38 cm. x 32 cm.
The photograph below shows a true-to-scale copy of an archaeological stone sculpture from Teotihuacan, Mexico, depicting a jaguar. It is an opening exhibit of the exposition "The adding machine" by Mai-Thu Perret which takes place at the Aargauer Kunsthaus.
Mai-Thu Perret, The Adding Machine, 2011, polyurethane foam, 103 x 243 x 87 cm
Little Planetary Harmony, 2006, wood slices, hammered aluminium, aluminium colored acrylic paint, foam, plaster, 353 x 665.5 x 365.7 cm
Arriving 15 minutes late to the Aargauer Kunsthaus I barely catch the beginning of the Artist’s talk with Mai-Thu Perret and Madeleine Schuppli, Director and Curator of the Aargauer Kunsthaus.
Everything about Mai-Thu is surprising and refreshing: the contrast between her full feminine red lips and her childlike sandals, her fragile figure and a speed of a machine gun with which she answers questions....answers them with irony and almost shocking directness.
Image from www.vogue.it
I am irritated with not seeing the exhibits beforehand to be able to understand what the artist refers to. She speaks of references, which is honest and fresh, since most of us want to be inventors and not interpreters... even the name for the show she chooses, referring to the “cut-up ” technique of American writer Willian S. Burroughs, the great grandson of the inventor of the adding machine (I think...)
In the last few years Mai-Thu Perret (born 1976) has drawn considerable attention in Europe an the US for her multidisciplinary artistic work, which includes sculprures, painting, installation, video and text-based pieces.
Mai-Thu Perret, Untitled, 2010, Acryl auf Holz, 60.6 x 45 cm
Untitled, 2009, acrylic gouache on plywood, 24.7 x 19.7 cm
Show "The Adding Machine" stays with the Aargauer Kunsthaus until 31.07.2011 and then goes on view in modified form at the MAGASIN - Centre national d'Art Contemporain in Grenoble, France, in the fall 2011.