To call what MB&F makes “clocks” or “watches” would be doing them a disservice. In fact, the company themselves call what they make Horological Machines. Part traditional, detailed watchmaking, part kinetic sculpture, MB&F makes art. And the more that they delved into the artistic nature of what they do, the more they found others in the world who have the same balance of artist, scientist, and tinkerer within themselves.
This leads to the real reason I’m writing about them today, the M.A.D Gallery. There are now three galleries worldwide, in Geneva, Taipei, and Dubai. Each one is populated with carefully-curated pieces they call “Mechanical Art Devices.”
Take “Disintegrating II” By Fabian Oefner, a series of photographs that takes over 2 months and 2,000 images per finished image to create. He does so by taking apart precice scale replicas of classic cars, photographing each component, and aligning them just so, so as to give the impression that the car is “exploding”. Currently on view in Dubai.
Or Quentin Carnaille’s work Apesanteur II, which hearkens back to the ancient science of measuring time known as astronomy, with a floating sculpture that levitates in a way reminiscent of planets, but is very tied to man, being comprised of thousands of tiny centennial mechanical watch components. This piece can be seen in Geneva.
And there’s Xia Hang’s work, which includes kinetic sculptures in stainless-steel with alien figures in different states of “play”. From the Gallery: “Growing up in a world that was constantly changing, he didn’t just want us to stand and admire his sculptures as purely static pieces of art. Therefore, he managed to make us to touch them, interact with them or even transform them to eventually bring a smile on our face.”
There are kinetic sculptures of humanoid fingers tapping on a countertop over and over again, or a clock called Nixie Machine, where each one of Nixie Machine’s glowing six digits is displayed via an original, incredibly preserved Z568M Nixie tube manufactured by RFT in East Germany during the 1960s. See all of these and more at each of the three galleries. While started as a retail operation for showcasing their high-end watches, these galleries contain a mixture of technology and humanity, or past and future, of contemporary art and whimsical invention, any of these locations is worth a visit.