The Killing Machine


The Killing Machine


Mixed media, sound, pneumatics, robotics

Approx. 5 min.

Cardiff & Miller

In an automated ballet of robotics, props, light, and sound, Cardiff and Miller’s The Killing Machine operates on an unseen, imagined victim. You may activate it by pushing the red button labeled “press here.” Alluding in part to Franz Kafka’s 1919 short story “In the Penal Colony,” about an elaborate execution apparatus, The Killing Machine ironically contrasts its sinister activity with the rudimentary mechanics of a music box and playful embellishments like faux fur and a disco ball. Part of the artists’ continued exploration of theatrical tropes and immersive environments, this work brings to life a haunting spectacle that, in its futility, doubles as a critique of the sanctioned use of torture.


  • Robot arm design: Carlo Crovato
  • Music: “Heartstrings” by Frieda Abtan
  • Percussion assistance: Titus Maderlechner

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