Estudio Amorales – ‘Coal Drawing Machine’, 2012


The Coal Drawing Machine

(all images taken from;


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‘Exhibited for the first time in a former coal mine in Belgium, at Manifesta 9 “The Deep of the Modern”, this paper labyrinth generates from the output by a machine which draws with coal. By making an analogy between the mine’s excavated underground and Hell, the drawings are repetitive patterns of magic symbols that can invoke demons but which also are considered to be the predecessors of the electronic circuits that are in use today. The machine functions through the span of the exhibition, it’s output accumulating day after day. The Coal Drawing Machine, an installation, questions the tension between the hand made quality of the traditional coal drawings and the fact of these being industrially produced by a machine. It is a piece that recalls the myth of robots and machines becoming sensible, as for instance in the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick, later filmed as “Blade Runner”.’


‘Ars Goetia’ electric circuits


The idea of seals being a gateway to the summoning of a demon is an interesting phenomenon, as it is often remarked that these ‘demons’ are in fact modes of human intelligence, and are utilised to grant one a heightened intelligence in a specific medium or subject. If these so-called demons, are in fact nothing more than just extensions of human intelligence, then really, the circles are just a means of meditation and knowledge gaining? I have read before that magic is found in the sub-conciousness, and that to ‘activate’ it, one must will it to happen. This is certainly truthful in some way; for if you want something to happen, eventually, it will come true in some way, shape or form. The interesting thing about these symbols is that they appear to resemble electrical circuitry, even though they were drawn, or indeed, ‘magicked’ into existence centuries before we even knew what electricity was, and that we could generate it. I find this concept fascinating, as it implies that these sigils are a precursor not only to technology, but by being an extension of a human’s intelligence, they are in fact a precursor to Artificial Intelligence as well! As I am working with the notion of the machine as the next step in humanities evolution, as well as notions of worship and transcendence found within the machines, this is a very interesting avenue to explore. It hints at work surrounding the evils of machinery, and how they are otherwordly, almost hellish beings, yet are so close to our own existence. They say that ‘the devil is the church’s best friend, because he keeps them in business’, It can probably be said that technology is our own best friend, and yet, our own worst enemy, within this vein of thought.


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