Machine Dazzle (née Matthew Flower, b. 1972) is performance artist and self-taught costume designer known for his wild inventions and for whom street is stage. Elissa Auther, who curated Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle, on view through February 2023 at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, says Machine’s “queer bricolage self-consciously makes display out of cast-offs that he cobbles together into a culture created for himself.”
Machine’s story of his collaboration with the artist Eileen Keane (b. 1969) goes like this: “On a rather magical evening” in early May 2002, “dressed to the nines” for Night of 1000 Stevies, Machine entered the kitchen of his friend Joachim’s “unusual and fabulous loft two flights up on the corner of Gold Street” to find “a person who would change my life forever.” This was Eileen, just “back from Japan,” where she’d studied papermaking and apprenticed with a photographer (having studied lithography, intaglio printmaking, ceramics, painting, and fiber art at West Virginia University). She was “beautiful, with a disciplined appearance,” “soft-spoken,” and could “spark conversations with strangers.” They “became fast friends.”
Although she doesn’t identify as a photographer, Eileen was “never without her Leica,” and “started documenting everything” Machine did. “Loading the film, shooting, reloading, all on the dance floor” or “at the bar” or anywhere, always dressed glamorously in “vintage Dior gowns, gloves, and feather boas,” she “captured moments, both public and private, and turned them into paintings, using camera, film, and light.”*
“Machine is my best friend and my muse,” says Eileen. “Machine, for me, is like looking in the mirror. We are the same, split in two and looking back at you.”
*Machine’s comments are adapted from Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle, edited by Elissa Auther (Rizzoli, 2022), in which the cover image of Machine by Eileen Keane appears. Eileen’s comments derived from conversation with Jennifer Baumgardner. Image courtesy of Eileen Keane and the Museum of Arts and Design. Inside front cover image of Machine & Eileen is courtesy of Eileen Keane.