Strung up at the end of a long corridor, Pelzer’s sculptural sunlamps have a moth-to-a-flame effect. Get closer, and they become even more intriguing—the fixtures, which look like abstract tangles of metal from afar, are in fact twisting, beckoning hands. Rendered by the German artist in Adobe Illustrator, then waterjet-cut from aluminum, the sculptures are his most recent investigation into the futility of the human hand in an age where robots are increasingly subbing in for humans. “He’s interested in how we don’t make anything with our hands anymore, whether we’re artists or workers; everything has been outsourced to machine production,” said Future Gallery director Michael Ruiz. “Though he cuts them with a machine, he then bends them into unique forms so that each piece is completely individual.”
In this way, Pelzer playfully subverts the fear that our handiwork will be eclipsed by the machines we’ve created. He drives home his point by decorating the lamps with laser-cut thumbprints, alluding to both the singularity of human identity and, more cheekily, our habit of using finger swipes to access our iPhones. These works, from his “Evolving Masters” series (2015–2016; €2,500–3,500), follow other projects that track the history of innovation, building a provocative timeline between prehistoric tools, like the hand, and contemporary technological advances, like robotics. This year, the art world has begun to take notice of Pelzer’s timely, evocative practice; his two-person booth at Artissima trails group shows in Antwerp, Milan, Cologne, and Seoul.