Bruno Munari

Bruno Munari. Useless Machines – 1947

From the start of Bruno Munari’s career, he did everything in his power to surpass the significant mechanism of himself and the restrictions that humanity applied to life. The disruption from the idea that art is limited to painting, sculpting, or an object of some kind arose to Munari in the 1930’s when he crafted his first unique, timeless, and significant work called, Useless Machines. This piece was his first attempt to conceive art as an environment. The original version of Munari’s Useless Machine that he created during the second wave of the Futurism Movement no longer exists, however, he replicated his idea over various occasions. More so, this piece showcases suspended mobile objects. Munari often would observe objects such as wind chimes, which are suspended objects from a ceiling that produces sounds based on their movements, and wind mills. These objects provided him with the inspiration and desire to create pieces like his, Useless Machines. The idea of suspended mobile objects sprung on Munari in the year 1930 while he was working as a Graphic Designer with Ricardo Castagnedi. They lived in an apartment together and were able to use one of their empty rooms to experiment with different art projects they had. Luckily, the room Munari used was empty when he hung up the objects which represented machines. These objects had reflected off of the light in the room and created shadows that spread across the walls. Once Munari hung up the piece he knew it was grand and different. Thus, he aimed at associating it with the psychological concept of the uselessness this piece of art provides and chose the ironic title of a Useless Machine. Ironically, this title was constantly misinterpreted and got some backlash for it due to the era this work was constructed in. Munari placed this structure in an exhibition where people associated the name with the exaggerated enthusiasm for futurism in mechanization. Although, Munari had zero intent of mocking the idea of a machine, he simply wanted to transpire an artistic concept he had come around. Decades later, his Useless Machines gained much publicity for being one of the first if not the first suspending mobiles.