We Futurists were the first to understand the marvellous mystery of inspiration which machines possess with their own mechanical world.
In fact, Marinetti in his first Manifesto on the Foundation of Futurism pub ished in the Figaro in 1909 stated: “We shall chant the vibrant nocturnal fervour of the arsenals and ship-yards lit by their violent electric moons, the bridges like giant gymnasts striding the rivers, the daring steamers that nose the horizons, the full-breasted locomotives that prance on the rails like enormous iron horses bridled with tubes, the gliding flight of the aeroplanes whose screw flutters in the wind like a flag or seems to applaud like an enthusiastic mob. The racing automobile with its explosive breath and its great serpent-like tubes crawling over the bonnet—an automobile that whizzes like a volley from a machine gun is more beautiful than the victory of Samothrace.”
From the appearance o the first Futurist Manifesto of Marinetti up until today, there has been a ceaseless searching and questioning in the field of art. Boccioni in his book, Futurist Sculpture and Painting (1914) stated that the era of the great mechanical individualities has begun; that all the rest is paleontology. Luigi Russolo (in 1913) with his invention of the noise-makers constructed new mechanical instruments to give value to new musical sounds inspired by noise, while Luciano Folgore in his poem the Chant of the Motors (1914) exalted the mechanical beauty of workshops and the overpowering lyricism of machines. Later, in my manifesto entitled Absolute Constructions in Motion-Noise (1915), I revealed by means of new plastic constructions the unknown constructive virtues of the mechanical aesthetic.
While the painter Gino Severini confirmed by means o’ an admirable theoretical essay in the Mercure de France (1916) the theory that “the process of the construction of a machine is analogous to the constructive process of a work of art."
This Futurist exaltation of ours for the new era of the machines crossed the Italic frontier and awoke echoes among the Dutch, the Russian, the Germans and the Spanish.
Fernand Leger recent y declared his painting to be concerned with the love of those forms created by industry and the clash of the thou' sand coloured and persuasive reflections of the so called classical subjects.
Guillermo de Torre, the daring Spanish poet and founder of the Ultraist movement, announced in his manifesto “Vertical” in 1918 the forthcoming epoch of the new and mechanical world.
Today we see a new tendency manifesting itself at the recent international Artists Congress of Düsseldorf. This is the movement of the “Constructionists” as exemplified in the works of the Russian, Dutch, German, Scandinavian and Roumanian painters among whom we mav note Theo Van Doesburg, Richter, Lissitzsky, Eggelin and Tanco. The Constructionists, though they take as their starting point an extremely clear theory, announcing the con' structive exaltation of the Machine, become inconsistent in the application of their doctrine, confusing exterior form with spiritual content.
We today—without ignoring the attempts that have been made in the course of the last years by ourselves and certain Futurist friends of ours—intend to reassume and synthetize all that which has been expressed individually and incidentally in order to arrive at more complete and more concrete results, in order to be able to realize more fully new aesthetic values in the field of the plastic arts.
Our experience has convinced us of the truth of cert ain of our plastic truths and has allowed us to perceive the errors that lie in others.
OLD AND NEW SYMBOLS
In the history of art throughout the ages the symbols and elements of inspiration have been suggested to us by the ancient legends and classic myths created by modern imagination. Today, therefore, where can we look for more contingent inspiration than among the new symbols which are no longer the creation of the imagination or the fantasy—but of human genius?
Is not the machine today the most exuberant of the mystery of human creation? Is it not the new mythical deitv which weaves the legends and histories of the contemporary human drama? The Machine in its practical and material function comes to have today in human concepts and thoughts the significance of an ideal and spiritual inspiration.
The artist can only pin his faith to the realities contingent on his own life or to those elements of expression which spiritualize the atmosphere he breathes. The elements and the plastic symbols of the Machine are inevitably as much symbols as a god Pan, the taking down from the Cross, of the Assumption of the Virgin, etc. The logic, therefore, of aesthetic verities becomes self-evident, and develops parallel with the spirit which seeks to contemplate, live and identify itself with reality itse t.
THE AESTHETIC OF THE MACHINE AND MECHANICAL INTROSPECTION
We, today, after having sung and exalted the suggestive inspirational force of the Machine—after having by means of the first plastic works of the new school fixed pure plastic sensations and emotions, see now the outlines of the new aesthetic of The Machine appearing on the horizon like a fly wheel all fiery from Eternal Motion.
WE THEREFORE PROCLAIM
1. The Machine to be the tutelary symbol of the universal dynamism, potentially embodying in itself the essential elements ot human creation: the discoverer of fresh developments in modern aesthetics.
2. The aesthetic virtues of the machine and the metaphysical meaning of its motions and movements constitute the new font of inspiration for the evolution and development of contemporaneous plastic arts.
3. The plastic exaltation of The Machine and the mechanical elements must not be conceived in their exterior reality, that is in formal representations of the elements which make up The Machine itself, but rather in the plastic- mechanical analogy that The Machine suggests to us in connection with various spiritual realities.
4. The stylistic modifications ot Mechanical Art arise from The Machine-as-interferential-element.
5. The machine marks the rhythm of human psychology and beats time for our spiritual exaltations. Therefore it is inevitable and consequent to the evolution of the plastic arts of our day.
(Translated by E. S.)
Reprint from Little Review.