Otto is a scalable, robotic chalk-drawing machine designed for large surfaces, driven by the same geometric principles that has already informed its predecessors Hektor and Viktor. As with Hektor and Viktor, the interest is in a post-industrial device that is not striving to be perfect, but instead has a distinct character in its gestures when executing its fragile line drawings onto walls. Driven by custom software and four computer-controlled motors, Otto executes compositions using a surprisingly simple medium: Chalk. This interplay of the digital and the analog inspires Jürg Lehni, who himself blurs disciplines, working as an artist, designer, engineer, tinkerer, and inventor. Otto embodies the increasing difficulty of distinguishing between medium and method in contemporary communication — it is both a tool and a performance, an apparatus for creating and an artwork in itself. In its performances, the drawings are carefully choreographed to be reproduced over time in a sequence that is interesting to witness. For Digital Day ZHdK, Otto will reproduce A Taxonomy of Communication, a series of drawings originally created by Jürg Lehni together with Jenny Hirons for the exhibition Typeface to Interface at SFMOMA in 2016. The series depicts a history of visible language and communication tools, where each set of drawings deals with a subset of the evolution of these technologies – from writing, reading, displays, signs, and interfaces.
«Whether we use a stylus to punch shapes into clay, use our hands and fingers to form gestures or read Braille, learn the 10 finger system to type words into a typewriter or computer, come up with grids and systems to form our letters, make a fire to send clouds into the sky in a specific rhythm, there is one underlying theme: the purpose is communication. In the past, humans used knives to shape wood into instruments that allowed us to write; today we are surrounded by software interfaces that allow us to communicate with machines and each other. A Taxonomy of Communication is about the exchange of information, and the systems we use that have become part of our culture and identity.» – Jürg Lehni
Aktionsraum (Level 5)