The 2007 Robodock festival in Amsterdam. By Dale Dougherty
EACH GENERATION LAYS CLAIM TO THE days at Robodock ( robodock.org), an art and
past with much the same force as it imagines technology festival held in September on the
the future. Sometimes we look to a period in abandoned grounds of an enormous shipyard
the past and call it the Golden Age, whether it’s the north of the city. Robodock reinhabited this
Golden Age of TV or the Golden Age of DIY. industrial landscape that working men and large
I was reminded of this while sitting on a plane machines once dominated. Artists transformed the
to Amsterdam. I read about a Dutch painting from factory into a playful fantasia, something beautiful
1605, The Golden Age by Joachim Wtewael, that and carefree, yet pulsating, with extreme machines
had gone on display at the Met in New York City. bathed in purple light. Here, we were invited to
The painting depicts an idyllic forest, bathed in blue take control of the machinery in this giant factory
light, and full of resting sheep and goats, colorful and make our lives more wondrous and vibrant.
birds, and cats and dogs. People inhabit this forest, I wandered around in a trance, not wholly conscious
without need of clothes or shelter, and live off the that I was living for a few nights in a made-up world.
fruit from the boughs of trees. This is not a dark forest filled with wild creatures. It is a dreamlike state.
The Golden Age is a picture of how we wish it might
have been, even if it never was.
I recalled this painting after spending several
Photography by Steve Double
Drumming signals the opening of Robodock. Acrobatic drummers are suspended down the outside
wall of the main shipyard building, and come to life
46 Make: Volume 13