Roboter gehören, seit es soetwas wie Nerds gibt, zu den Lieblingsfetischen zumindest der Jungs. In der wirklichen Welt derzeit noch eher banale, abstrakte Arbeitsmaschinen, haben sie popkulturell quasimenschliche Form angenommen und beflügeln die Fantasie, vom Golem von Prag hin zu C-3PO, R2D2 und Bender aus Futurama.
Kein Wunder also, daß die Roboter auch in der modernen Kunst Einzug halten „” bieten sie sich doch vorzüglich als Vorlagen für Skulpturen an.
Mike Rivamonte, der direkt neben dem U.S. Space & Rocket Center aufwuchs und damit wohl gar keine andere Chance hatte, als sich für Technik und Raumfahrt zu begeistern, baut Roboter aus Technomüll und Fundstücken. Wunderbar homogen, wirken seine Skulpturen wie Charaktere aus klassischen SciFi-Filmen des frühen zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts.
Im Interview erzählt er von seiner Arbeitsweise, den Hintergrundgeschichten zu den Robotern und den Illustrationen, die demnächst auf seiner Website zu sehen sein werden.
Diskursdisko: Hi Mike. To start things off, what“™s your background? When did you start making sculptures?
Mike Rivamonte: I guess I began making sculptures in college. I was under the impression that the professors only gave out so many A“™s and I wanted to be among the few who got one. I enrolled in a figure model class where the final project was a 1/4 size or a life size model. I decided to go the extra mile so I sculpted life size… a naked man.
We each also had to make a mold of our sculpture and then cast it. I cast mine out of some type of outdoor concrete. It weighed 275 lbs. At the end of the class I carted it to my parents house. They were the unfortunate curators of my college art collection. At first it was „dressed“ appropriately for family gatherings. Years later my dad and I moved it so that it faced the neighbor“™s compost. I received an „A“ and learned about the durability of concrete.
I“™ve been making robot sculpture for three years. My dad and I made a gentleman“™s wager on who could complete a sculpture first. He made his in 1 month and mine took almost a year. The more I looked at other sculptors and their work the more I saw something missing. You see I also have a passion for illustrating. I spend hours studying the work of famous illustrators and animators. I am always looking for articles they have written explaining their processes and insights. An illustration is a moment, like a photo, telling a story or expressing or invoking an emotion. I think sculpture works the same way.
You are sculpting a moment that tells a story and expressing the personality of the character. When a sculptor does it well you immediately recognize it.
By the way … my dad won our bet.
Diskursdisko: Can you tell us a bit about growing up next door to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center? It sounds like a fascinating place to live…
Mike Rivamonte: It is a wonderful place. The center is surrounded by several retired rockets. You really need to stand next to one of these to appreciate the size. The center also had many types of exhibits, models and dioramas. I think my favorite part as a kid was that in the entrance of the center was a glass case. Inside the case was a huge moon rock. I always marveled at how we got that rock back to earth. It seemed like every year in school we made at least one field trip to the rocket center. I believe it inspired us kids to build and launch our own model rockets. Of course many of our rockets met the fate of landing in trees or powerlines.
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Mike Rivamonte: Definitely the reaction that people have to my work inspires me. I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces and answering their questions. I“™m inspired to make more and to continue to challenge myself. Also a great find inspires me. Once it is in your hands and you can look at it from many views you start to see possibilites.
Diskursdisko: Do you feel you have a special connection to robots?
Mike Rivamonte: I think that they are an opportunity for me to express my creativity and from there continue to explore this and related mediums. I like creating the character. It seems natural for them to have a robotic qualities.
Diskursdisko: You“™ve got a section on your web site labeled Sketches, which is still under construction at the moment. Obviously, I find this quite tantalizing… what will you be showcasing?
Mike Rivamonte: Very soon.
Early in the development of these sculptures I make notes on their personalities. I write a paragraph or two about who they are so I can better understand and best express them to the viewer. Many of the objects I use are too expensive to repair or replace. I“™ll make several drawings and doodles which become the springboard for other ideas and situations for these characters. Take for example Walt, his feet are staplers and I am illustrating him reacting to getting a sheet of paper stapled to his foot. Illustrating sometimes is more feasible than the physical construction.
I am completing several robots for a show in mid-March. Then I plan to really focus on the „sketches section“, painting and a couple of tutorials that I am producing.
Diskursdisko: You“™ve obviously got the website at mrivamonte.com, any other presences on the web you“™d like to publicize? social networking?
Mike Rivamonte: I am working on a blog that I plan to focus specifically on character design and illustration. Right now that is not possible as the sculpture side is just too demanding of my time. I launched a site about nine years ago, guitar-bones.com, that makes custom dice control knobs for guitars. I enjoy the fact that it is still around and that I have met many guitarists and enthusiasts around the world. My father took it over when I moved to New York for a couple of years and he still fulfills dice orders from Great Britain to New Zealand.
Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?
Mike Rivamonte: Each piece demands new techniques and skills. That said I am always all over the internet reading and taking notes. At the moment I am studying Tig and Mig welding. Last month it was woodworking and how to make a camera iris. Over the summer using milling machines and machinist tools. I am always keeping up on photography and sculpting techniques in clay. Conceptart.org is a great gathering of talent to study illustration and sculpture which I frequent.
Diskursdisko: Of all the work you“™ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?
Mike Rivamonte: Old Blue and Walt. Walt is an incarnation of Eureka, my first piece. Both of these robots have inspired many new sculpts for me. I hope to show them off very soon.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Mike Rivamonte: Yes. Illustrations and perhaps a fun book or two giving them an adventure. I have several directions I want to go into with my robots and other future creations!
Diskursdisko: Mike, many thanks for the interview — is there anything you“™d like to add?
Mike Rivamonte: Thank you!
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