When Robots Rule

Chris Burden
When Robots Rule : The Two Minute Airplane Factory 1999

Another famous mechanical failure. The Two Minute Airplane Factory was on display in Tate Britain in 1999. The machine was supposed to make a paper airplane every two minutes, launching it 20 m high so that it circled the Duveen galleries, before gently coming to rest on the floor. The planes would then be for sale in the Tate shop. The machine failed to produce one paper airplane. The viewers, instead of watching the beautiful efficiency of a completely mechanised factory line, could watch the Tate gallery technicians trying in vain to get the machine to work. The only plane on display was the one made by Burden - by hand. Many think the mechanical failure was part of the piece; it may have never meant to be a performing machine, but rather performing management.


David Barrett article: