The Age Machine
January 15 – April 19 1992
The Age Machine, an interactive installation which aged participating visitors 25 years through a computer program that simulates the aging process installed in the New Museum lobby, invited visitors to use the machine while their “aged” images appearred on video monitors in the Broadway Window. Created by artist Nancy Burson in collaboration with David Kramlich, The Age Machine scanned a face or portrait and aged it in 30 seconds using digital conversion and a personal computer.
Nancy Burson has had a long history with technologically derived portraits which examine such identity issues as gender, age, and race. Experimentation with make-up, drawings, and interviews with plastic surgeons inspired Burson to conceive The Age Machine. In its early years, the Machine was bound by limited technology, but with advances such as storing still images and computer manipulation, the project came to life in the mid-1980s. The portraits produced by The Age Machine illustrate a physical change believed to occur over a period of time. In so doing, the images address society’s emphasis on youth and beauty, while making reference to life experiences that cannot be predicted visually through a rigidly systematic process.