Wrapped Calculating Machine, 1963

Exhibiting Christo’s wrapped calculating machine in the Arithmeum raises similar questions. Here we have this wrapped calculating machine, long since antiquated as an everyday gadget, face to face with its equally antiquated colleagues on the floor. The latter, however, squat deferentially below, rattling away meditatively facing their comrade that has become art and been placed on a pedestal.

In his early wrappings, however, like the wrapped calculating machine of 1963, Christo does not apply this principle. Here the wrappings stay put, and it is the wrappings that make the wrapped object into a work of art.

In his more recent projects, the wrapped object is only temporarily a work of art. In fact, it is the act of wrapping that becomes art, not the wrapped object itself – it reverts back to its usual state. One could thus query Christo’s earlier work as to whether the wrapped objects are works of art, or whether it is perhaps the wrappings themselves that constitute the work of art.