The Three Aspects Of Brutalization Of The Human Race – Social, Psycho-biological And Technological

Epstein’s “Rock Drill” was perceived as a celebration of modern machinery and masculine virility… In 1940, however, recalling the horror of the 1914 – 1918 war in the context of the WWII, Epstein reinterpreted the sculpture much more negatively… “Here is the armed sinister figure of today and tomorrow. No humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein’s monster we have made ourselves into.” (Jacob Epstein).

Henry Moore, “Helmet-head”2, 1955
Henry Moore, “Helmet-head”2, 1955

Moore’s sculpture expresses robotization of human being as a result of militarization, competition for world markets, austerity, uncertainty and growing rivalry for jobs. Politeness, gentleness, sensitivity are becoming an unsustainable luxury. Human face loses intelligence and contemplative openness to the world. It‘s becoming helmetized (helmet-like). Human eyes are evolving into watching device. Insecure, stressful environment makes it necessary to watch the surrounding with suspicious alertness. Helmet becomes the exoskeleton of the brain armed with artificial high-tech sight and high effectivity strategies of paralyzing and eliminative “handling” of the world.

Max Ernst, “Head of a Man”, 1955
Max Ernst, “Head of a Man”, 1955

Orientation on acquisition and consumption and permanent readiness to fight (in an atmosphere of growing crime, availability of assault weapons to criminals, psychologically disbalanced and frustrated people, and hateful suspicion of other countries, foreigners and ideological “enemies”, which is spread by news and conservative politicians) have made the human face to transform into a prolonged animalistic muzzle. Eyes become organs of self-defense and preemptive attack. Is the creature from Max Ernst’s “Head of a Man” masticating? Is it shouting? Is it trying to intimidate? – Or does it just feel aggressive or a menacing excitement? Its sight is without eyes. Ernst’s “man” is looking at us by the cave-like dents in his head – by his empty eye sockets. The world conquered by him is represented by his background – the creature is leading it as a commander – into the world ahead, from where we are looking at him, the world he didn’t conquer yet. The frame of the background is marked by two vertical black lines representing deadliness of the life devastated by the Ernst’s “man”. From the left to the right in the background we see – a wide strip of light blue signifying a lifeless sky, as if, sapped to death. Next to it – the darker blue – the poisoned ocean. And then next to the right we see the widest area of the background signifying soil mixed with fresh blood. Finally, on the right margin of the painting, we see a giant green tear signifying nature‘s suffering under the predatory monarchy of globalist civilization.

Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill' 1913-14 Sir Jacob Epstein 1880-1959 Purchased 1960 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00340
Jacob Epstein, “The Rock Drill”, 1913

“What kind of a creature can the rock drill be? Aggressively masculine and with… a belly with a baby in it? Is it man, woman, or perhaps a hermaphrodite?” Isn’t Epstein’s the Rock Drill‘s muzzle, like Moore’s Helmet-head and Ernst’s Head of a man – predatorily animalistic? And its baby-like configuration may symbolize the “rock drill’s” worries about its offspring and the future generations, which makes today’s people less human and more rock-drill-like. Arms and hands of the Rock Drill are good for violence and construction through destruction, but they are obviously not for caressing and nurturing. Having blindly taken the side of technology as weapons of profit-making over reverie of the nature outside and inside us, human beings are transforming into technology itself – into robots calculating efficiency of its power and profit over life and world. Epstein’s Rock Drill is not only robot but a crippled artificial creature, a semi-functional invalid whose technological effectiveness is equal to its invalidity.