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Paul Klee’s “Honey-Writing” Some Reflections on the Relation of Automatism, Automation, Machines and Mathematics

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Abstract

Paul Klee is often treated as a painter of dreamlike sujets. At the same time he worked method based, using a kind of automatism (close to surrealist’s écriture automatique) as well as mathematical procedures. This chapter wants to show which roles mathematics plays in his practice and theory of creation, which both will be reconstructed with a special view to Klee’s graphical work, and how this is connected with his machine thinking. One hypothesis is that Klee not only worked with painted and built machines, but also with graphical ones (on paper), based on mathematical procedures, to realise a kind of automation. As the graphical machines enable an oblivion of sense and a liberation from rationality it becomes interesting to examine the relationship of automatism and automation. That is why the approach here is to think automatism, automation, machines and mathematics together, referring to theories of design, draft, notation, diagrammatics and notational iconicity. This chapter contributes to theories of artistic production, media and creativity as well as the current human–machine debate.

Being capable to recognize a clear structure, I will get more from this as from a lively, imaginary construction,

and something typical will result of series of examples automatically.1

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Here quoted after [1], p. 10 (All quotations translated by myself).

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Acknowledgements

This chapter was written in the context of the research project Automated Innovations. Machine Arts in the 20th and 21st Century in the Tension of Subject, Medium and Process and Its Contributions to the Discourse of Creativity granted by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). I also want to thank the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern and The Guggenheim Museum, New York for providing digital images in a generous manner.Footnote 1

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Rottmann, M. (2020). Paul Klee’s “Honey-Writing” Some Reflections on the Relation of Automatism, Automation, Machines and Mathematics. In: Emmer, M., Abate, M. (eds) Imagine Math 7. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-42653-8_2

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