Political Automatons: Artist’s Statement

The chattering onslaught of almost-daily political polling has become a droll background to our everyday lives. In these works Edmonds had used the already outmoded detritus of the morning newspaper to fabricate the already outmoded detritus of yesterday’s political policy making. Like wind-up toys form a former epoch, these artefacts parody the power and control associated with national politics and reduce them to fragile redundant playthings. If this political critique is unflinchingly direct, the approach is mediated by the quiet absorption of the objects’ careful construction – the viewer is made all-too-aware of the time and consideration the artist has brought to the fabrication of these items. In sharp contradistinction to the soundbytes and info-grabs of what politics has become, the artist’s slow deliberations of thought and care and concern are the residues of an alternative approach to dealing with the concerns at hand.




This series of interactive art objects looks at the spectacularisation and aestheticisation of Australian politics in the media. Each automaton refers to specific media events or what I perceive as constructed ‘images’ surrounding political figures that are circulated by mass and social media. These automatons refer to recent events at the time that were largely social media driven. My practice is concerned with relationships between the ideas of spectacle, mass and social media, political art, and the handmade and new media.


They liked the onion and ‘We need more flags’ on display at ‘Everything is Connected’ Exhibition at the Hold Artspace, 2015


Through the mechanism that requires the viewer’s involvement for the images to animate, the works actively draw the viewer in to become a participant in the process of the spectacle making. I am interested in how this interaction can be used metaphorically to question the roles and relationships between producer and consumer in the circulation of spectacles and images in the media. These roles become more complex and blurred with the rise of social media as everyone can become a contributor or a user. The exposed mechanisms of the objects are suggestive of these underlying, often unseen processes and connections that allow the spectacles to function and circulate. The fragility of the objects and the use of nonprecious materials reflect the short-lived nature of the media events and images cultivated and spread through the media.

These objects are precursors to my Honours research project I DUN GOOD, 2015. More can be read in the project’s exegesis here.

Automatons and artist - photography by Jonathan Tse