Tal Avitzur grew up in Pennsylvania in a family where the sciences were emphasized more than the arts. His father, uncle and brothers are engineers and his sister, a doctor. The art world opened up to Tal when he moved to California and worked for painter Irma Cavat, and also lived in her large communal artist compound. There was a constant stream of artists coming and going. He found their lifestyles and attitudes very appealing. It was obvious they had discovered something that brought them much joy, Tal said. Tal considers himself lucky to have also known and worked for sculptor George Rickey and ceramicist Beatrice Wood. He guesses his creativity first appeared when he bought a fixer-upper and spent many years on the remodel. Tal and his builder friend had the attitude of keeping it fun, and that they did. A lot of attention went into small details. The house became his canvas. It was a real pleasure for us to take an interview with Tal Avitzur and learn more about his original robot sculptures. Enjoy reading the interview with Tal Avitzur at AstrumPeople.
AP: Tal, thank you very much for giving us the chance to take an interview about your robot sculptures. What got you started?
Tal: During the house remodel we tried to use as many recycled materials as possible. I began going to scrap metal yards to gather objects for different building projects. Little did I know that visiting these yards would become an obsession. My town of Santa Barbara has many research labs, a large university, and a harbor, so it’s pretty amazing what shows up at the scrap yards. It’s lucky for me that brass, aluminum and other metals have value, so they end up at the scrap yard rather than in the trash. I was finding all kinds of cool objects that I didn’t need for the remodel but I knew if I didn’t “rescue” them from the yard they would be smelted and gone forever. I have a fondness for vintage tools, kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, floor polishers and scientific equipment. Based on the designs of these objects (circa 1940s through 1970s) it seems as if many of their creators had secret desires to be building rocket ships and robots. Before I knew it, my gardening shed became full of all kinds of weird stuff, and I was spending many hours dismantling these items. A friend commented that one could build a pretty cool set for a Dr. Frankenstein movie from all the stuff I collected.
AP: Dr. Frankenstein movie sounds intersting, but looking at your robot sculptures I see that they are very kind and attractive. Could you please describe your creative process?
Tal: After I bring parts to the studio, they are cleaned, disassembled (if necessary), sometimes polished, then sorted. Each robot begins with finding the personality in an object, then test fitting combinations together, and cutting, drilling and grinding until reaching a natural-looking fit. The workshop bench usually has a few different projects going on at any time. Sometimes, sculptures need to be put aside for months while waiting for just the right salvaged part.
AP: Wow, few months of waiting. You must be very patient. By the way, what influences your designs?
Tal: My inspiration comes from a youth filled with a healthy dose of science fiction, mythology, comic books, and still having the playful mind of a little kid. I knew the direction my work would take when I discovered the kinetic sculptures of the very talented Nemo Gould. It was like finding a long, lost brother.
AP: It’s so wonderful that you could find the right direction in art. Do you have any formal education in design or were you self-taught?
Tal: I have a master’s degree in math, which isn’t that helpful in building these robots. I do however consider myself lucky to have some very talented friends. I owe a lot to kinetic sculptor Ken Bortolazzo who allowed me to use his studio and tools. He also taught me how to take things apart and put things together that were never meant to be connected. Ken has the patience of a saint.
AP: Good friends are the best friends. Tal, how would you describe your work?
Tal: The robots are harmless. They do not harbor any desires to take over the planet. They are happy robots.
AP: I absolutely agree with you. We like your robots very much! By the way, what is your favorite robot so far?
Tal: My favorite robot always seems to be whichever one I am currently working on.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in in sculpture design?
Tal: I’m no expert. I’m just a guy having a lot of fun building goofy characters in his workshop.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Tal: I couldn’t be doing this without the unconditional support from my very accepting and loving Lisa. Not to mention that she is much better with a set of tools than I am.
My friend KC Gruel deserves recognition for bringing the spark into the robots’ eyes. Before he started helping me with the wiring of the lights, I was an expert at burning out LEDs.
I’m also grateful to have such great friends that keep an eye out for all those cool “robot part” presents that magically appear at my front gate.
AP: Would you like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?
Tal: Peace, love and recycle your aluminum and brass.
Tal, thank you very much, for spending your precious time with us and we wish you much of patience and of course many creative and fresh ideas. As you see the most important thing is to have patience and find beauty in every detail. Tal Avitzur could find the beauty in aluminium, brass and other metal scrap and he creates amazing robot sculptures. To find out more about Tal Avitzur sculptures visit his personal website called Talbotics.
Find more Tal’s robot sculptures in our gallery:
[flagallery gid=93 name=”Tal Avitzur Robot Sculptures”]
- Mike Slobot: Unique and Familiar Robot Sculptures
- Brian Despain Illustrations: Unusual World of Robots With Soul
- Sculptures by Stacey Lee Webber: Feel the Spirit of American Culture
- Figurative and Abstract Sculptures by David Vanorbeek
- Jud Turner Sculptures: Cognitive Provocation through Visual Seduction