In the spring and summer of 1959, Tinguely created a series of elaborate drawing machines that revisited, developed and perfected the rudimentary prototypes that the artist had first explored in his meta-mechanical reliefs shown in the exhibition of kinetic art - Le Mouvement - held at the Galerie Denise René in April 1955.
The self-creating drawing apparatuses, entitled meta-matics, collapsed the distance between the viewer and the work of art, between man and machine, by demanding the spectator's participation and complicity in operating the apparatus and producing the work. Simultaneously, however, they wittily and sardonically questioned the received idea that a work of art is by definition something final and complete: Tinguely's sculptures were no longer considered aesthetically on their appearances alone, as simply pieces of sculpture, but began to be judged on what they produced.
The exhibition of the meta-matic series at the Galerie Iris Clert in July 1959 was a public spectacle, accompanied by a competition for the best meta-matic drawing, as adjudicated by a panel of eminent names from Parisian art circles, including Jean Arp, Yves Klein and Pierre Restany. The present work was produced by Jean-Yves Mock operating Meta-matic no.9 (Scorpion), seen in fig.1 being operated by the artist.