The modern-day State of Israel has its roots in an industrial age that gave rise to both high technology and contemporary art. Israel’s modern art heritage has been showcased in museums but to date, the archiving of our industrial history has been left up to the companies themselves or to individuals with a passion for a particular topic.

In an effort to right that wrong, the Manufacturers Association of Israel announced this week the establishment of a Museum of Industry, the first of its kind in Israel.

Fittingly, the announcement was made this week at the opening of Omanuta’asia (Art+Industry) a conference and exhibit showcasing the creative spirit of Israeli tech people and artists. The event, held at Gallery Hayarkon 19 in Tel Aviv, was an unusual meeting between industrialists, engineers and artists, to discuss the complex relationship between creation, product and humanity in the machine age.

Omanuta’asia got its start about 15 years ago when the Manufacturers Association, under the late Dov Lautmann, initiated a project to connect industrialists with artists and designers. The revival of Omanuta’asia includes movie shorts featuring dialogues between engineers, technologists and artists whose work relates to concepts in industry, science and technology.

These include artists such as Natalie Mandel who creates post-apocalyptic sculptures out of obsolete electronics. “I’m sort of a little inventor,” she says. “The encounter with an engineer definitely gives me inspiration and a different outlook on materials. When I create an insect, for example, my action is very intuitive. I take two headphones, for example, connect them to the legs… and only afterwards do I open a book to read and discover that the hearing sensors in these chirping insects are located in their hind legs.”

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As a researcher of new drugs Dr. Michel Ifergan observes a variety of fascinating and complex microscopic biological systems. As an artist, he uses the image of the ear canal to “draw” the movement of sound in a range of colors.

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Multidisciplinary artist Dorit Feldman has worked with engineers to create both photographs and 3D images focusing on the Dead Sea, ancient prints and etchings of maps.

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Artist Itamar Shimshoni worked with a robotics expert to create a somber work: an autonomous system for graveyard preparation and maintenance.

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Artist Uri de Beer created an installation from of a high voltage electric tower and stained glass that casts colorful shadows hundreds of meters long.

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The exhibit also presented products designed by Ziv Av Engineering which has worked with a prestigious client list on projects that include charging stations for a nationwide electric car project, an emergency elevator exit system for high-rise buildings, a low-cost wheelchair specifically for children, a more comfortable wheelchair braking system, and more.      

Omanuta’asia is part of a larger international project entitled Oh-Man Oh-Machine that explores the future of humanity in the era of machines and technology.