Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

The Robotic World of Chico MacMurtrie

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This Sunday is the last chance to experience an incredible four part installation by robotics artist/genius Chico MacMurtrie. Taking over several rooms at Pioneer Works and the Naval Church down the street in Red Hook, visitors can walk down memory lane with MacMurtrie, in this unofficial retrospective. MacMurtrie has been fusing his love of robots with art since the 1980s, creating pieces that feel as though they are living works of art. A not to be missed closing party will be held this Sunday, November 24th from 4 to 7.

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Pioneer Works’ cavernous main hall is taken over my the ominous, morphing piece called Chrysalis. The inflatable sculpture at first hangs lifelessly from the soaring ceiling. But with a click of a button (and puppeteering by a master controller in the rafters) Chrysalis awakens, reacting, contorting, inflating and engulfing the visitors exploring it below. The enormous piece feels like a giant beast-like monster at one moment, then the other totally skews your feeling of perspective, closing in around you as if you’ve been shrunk into a microscopic part of the body.


Chrysalis is joined by a video of the incredible piece Totemobile, as well as Totem Forest, a collection of robotic sculptures that grow and contort in the darkened gallery.

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Down the street in a historic Seaman’s Church is MacMurtrie’s incredible Robotic Church. Made up of robotic sculptures made over the past 30 years, the pieces perform together in a beautiful robotic orchestra. Lasting about 30 minutes, each piece comes to life and plays itself, an instrument, a drum or each other. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few scenes from Beetlejuice (let me know if you agree), as sculptures came to life, bursting through doors, ┬áteetering on the edges of balconies, barking at guests and climbing ropes. This is the first time the collection has performed together in New York, and I hope it won’t be the last. But either way, it is worth the trek to Red Hook.

MacMurtrie’s exhibitions is like a peep into the innerworkings of the artist’s mind, an incredible glimpse into the robotic genius.

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