The Thinking Machine 

The thinking machine is the last component of the Awareness Muscle Training Center routine in Museum Villa Stuck. This machine is a training exercise for the brain and is the conclusion to the series of questions and exercises that visitors undergo while engaging in the awareness muscle training format. The purpose of this machine is for visitors to consider their life and what they have done with it, to take a step back and view their life from a levelled perspective, measuring up what they have done and what they haven’t, their regrets and achievements and hopefully give them a new perspective on what is still in their power to change.  

The machine itself possesses an almost Freudian aesthetic, it is a weights machine with the weights detached, and visitors have the option to use it in any way they choose, most laying down to use it in a style that mimics patients on a therapist bench. This is ironic given the topics discussed on the thinking machine, which include the visitor’s life satisfaction and how they feel about themselves and how they view their place in the world. One instructor noted that more men chose to sit while women were more likely to lay down. Older people were on average more satisfied with their lives while very young people were less sure of their place in things and were more likely to say they would change things, however many people of all ages said they weren’t satisfied and felt they could’ve done more and should still try to change things.   

The machine aims to activate thinking as a function, as its own individual effort; an activity, much like a physical training exercise, that works to strengthen and define brain power. This is why the machine can be seen as the immortalization of the awareness muscle training center, it is working at the core of the formats aims, enlisting visitors own thorough thought investigation to go into overdrive, for them to examine the blueprints of their lives and their thought paths and navigate their way to a better understanding of themselves. It is the building of the awareness muscle and is conceived of many of Geoffroy’s underlying artistic ideals. The non-physical aspect of this machine has two functions: to concentrate the concept of a mental workout requiring a similar effort to a physical one and to allow for a non-fanatic option that anyone regardless of bodily mobility could engage in. 

As the last machine it serves as a rounding up of all the explored ground within the interview/workout awareness muscle training format. As a culmination of all the themes approached via the different machines’ subjects, the thinking machine looks at the total self that exists around these concepts. It is almost an offering of power back to the visitor; how do you engage with your life? What would you and others benefit from a change in? How does your life reflect back on you when mirrored with those of others? The machine provides a contemplation that meets some visitors as a discomfort, while reaching others as a sigh of relief. While the effectiveness of the thinking machine is interlinked with the visitor’s response to the training circuit as a whole, the direct nature of the thinking machines questioning can be seen to act at a parallel with the focus of the exhibition as a whole, and the awakening effect, an actively aware state, that develops as a post-workout result is the desired frame of mind to carry on to the ensuing parts of the exhibition. 

Text by Elena Hansen