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The Village Voice Review's Tim Hawkinson's One Man Band

If the professor of Gilligan's Island had ever cobbled together a music box, it might have looked like the device that Tim Hawkinson has mounted on a small table here: An old Coleman Thermos, studded with wood screws, rotates and plucks the blades of steak knives. Its clanking cannot, in any way, be described as tuneful, but the sounds produced by Hawkinson's machines don't matter nearly as much as their delightfully arduous Rube Goldberg methods. Compared to the artist's Seussian Überorgan—a bellowing instrument of giant balloons and inflated tentacles that in 2005 filled the atrium of the former IBM building—the contraptions here are gently childlike. In Ranting Mop Head (Synthesized Voice), a handmade computer, wittily perched on a lectern, reads a photosensitive scroll, feeding signals to a valved tube that's attached to the figurehead mop. For all its effort, the thing speaks with the quietest of voices, bleating like a baby goat trying to learn English. A kind of geeky Dr. Frankenstein, Hawkinson has assembled each work from electronic cast-offs and junked hardware, leaving the messy configurations—and their straining labor—entirely exposed. The machines, ugly misfits, seem desperate to express themselves. Controlled by a clunky cylinder, a tree-like structure drips water onto pie plates, plunking rudimentary rhythms. You feel as if you should offer encouragement. But nearby, a large device powered by a running loop of beaded string solicits mostly pity; it plays a slide whistle like a lunatic. In the age of slick iPhones, Hawkinson demonstrates the charms of mechanics—artful for being awkward.
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