Man and Machine – The Mechanisation of War

Posted on November 21, 2014

Some thoughts – associations, observations after my last visit to White Mill…

The sweeps of the windmill powered by wind – no more.

The blades of the wind turbines dotted around the surrounding land and seascapes.

Images of men battling with their machines to get the most from the land in order to survive.

1914 – 1918 the last war fought hand to hand.

The metal tillers, wood seed drills.

White Mill Display
Display at White Mill


The Rock Drill by Joseph Epstein 1913-1915 a comment on the marching industrialisation and the prevalence of the machine, (he was associated with the British Vorticists for a short time). Subsequently, totally saddened by the slaughter of men cut to the ground with machine guns in WW1, The Rock Drill was amputated, severed from the drill, no legs and without an arm, recast in bronze as a head and torso sculpture in 1916. in Metal from 'The Rock Drill' 1913-14 by Sir Jacob Epstein 1880-1959

Images from

A new generation of mechanization is taking place on our landscapes in the drive to produce alternative forms of energy as seen in these wind driven turbines. I wonder how long before man is totally eradicated from the working landscape.

Thought Sketch, Mill, Turbine

Jasia Reichardt’s books Robots: Fact, Fiction and Prediction (1978) and Cybernetics, Art and Ideas, (1971). The coming together of machine and man.

Cybernetic Serendipity: A Documentation is an exhibition originally curated by Jasia in 1968 is currently on at the ICA until 30 November 2014.

I’d hoped that this trail of thoughts and associations would lead me back to White Mill but I’m not sure where computers and robots fit in.  These thoughts started with the machines that men made to help them to automate their work and the land and the period when Gertrude was born and in fact the focus of this project – the early 1900s and WWI. I suppose this reflection is looking at the part White Mill played in the trajectory of industrialisation and how it can be celebrated now ‘frozen in time’ as it were but activated through new ways of reading it and the important part the Mill played in the landscape and peoples’ lives of the area.