The Marriage of Nature and Machine

By  Shawn Daniell

Andrew Dailey’s illustrations take viewers into a world populated by hybrid creatures, part machine and part animal oddities. Genus Machina, on display in the Hutson Gallery, one of six galleries housed in the Carnegie, consists of sixteen drawings focused on the idea of manmade versus animal. Dailey, an adjunct professor at Miami University, received his BFA from Wright State University and his MFA from Miami University. In the past Dailey, via acrylic paintings, has explored the interaction of humans with machines. I thought the idea of combining machines and animals to be a refreshing take on the technology discussion.

Technology continues to grow and progress. Look there, while you’ve been reading my review a brand new device has just been produced. Technology does so many useful and wonderful things for society such as helping to cure diseases, making communication much faster, easy access to information, faster and efficient transportation, and the list goes on. But like everything, you can’t have the sweet without the sour. We rely heavily on machines for our day to day tasks. Is it too much to think that soon even our animals will begin to meld with machines? As I write this review I can’t help thinking of a recent college class in which I read about a man, Ahab from Melville’s Moby-Dick, who wanted to command and control nature. For Ahab it was conquering and killing the white whale, Moby-Dick. In Genus Machina we see striking animals such as the elephant, donkey, gorilla, panda, beetle, and so on, that have been fashioned with machines. This marriage of metal and flesh is rendered skillfully by Dailey. Even though the images are beautiful they are also disturbing, because they draw attention to man’s obsession with power, much like Ahab’s megalomaniac’s drive for power over Moby-Dick. Where do we draw the line? Does a panda really need a tank protruding from its back, such as the panda in Cannon Melanoleuca?

I love how Dailey has captured a wide range of emotions with each hybrid. For instance in Asinus Mopae we see a forlorn donkey, its front legs have been replaced with the front wheel of a moped, as it looks away from viewers with an expression of shame. I can see several emotions emanating from the sad eyes, ranging from resigned acceptance to a deep soul-shattering melancholy. Perhaps I am being silly attaching these human emotions to these creatures, but as I walked around the room I couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of sadness wash over me as I viewed these warped creatures. Each creation, done in pencil, sat trapped behind glass as if they were prisoners on show for our amusement. In a sense Dailey has created his own zoo of deformed, mutant cyborgs. Animals are innocent, merely acting on instinct. I feel that these mutations somehow tame the wildness of these majestic animals, by making them mechanical oddities. The fact that these animals had no say in these “experiments” makes them all the more innocent. In the end these animals are sad victims.

I could see Dailey further exploring this idea of hybrid creations with perhaps larger drawings, paintings, or interactive sculptural pieces, in which viewers could turn a crank or press a button of one of these machines. But these are merely suggestions. I think that Dailey’s current pieces, deftly drawn black and white images, successfully communicate with viewers because there are no distractions of color, decorative noise, or interactive parts.

Genus Machina, is on display at the Carnegie through February 14. The exhibition gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, Noon-5 p.m. You can visit their website at HYPERLINK “” for more information.

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