Inspect a gadget, make a robot
Dan Carrier spent an enjoyable afternoon playing with junk, having been inspired by Eszter Karpati’s exciting new picture book
06 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
Artist and editor Eszter Karpati
OLD spatulas. Rusty forks and spoons. Tobacco tins, car door handles, tea strainers.
They may look like junk to us, but for a group of artists they are vital components with which to make a range of attractive robots.
And how this is so is the topic of an extraordinary new picture book called Assembled: Transform Everyday Objects into Robots! by Islington-based artist Eszter Karpati.
Eszter studied art history and design and currently works as a book editor, putting her in a good position, she says, to curate a book about her bizarre passion.
“I have always been in love with objects of all shapes, sizes and types,” she says.
“And I have always wanted to find ways of using them, not just displaying them.”
She had been making collages for the past six years, many of them in a 3D style, finding pictures at markets and in junk shops that she would re-use for her own work.
“I love going to flea markets and finding something someone else doesn’t want lying there on a table. I really enjoy the whole market experience and how it can take a few views to actually find something of worth and value. I love ephemera and, for me, it has to be the thing in its original state. I liked working with objects that were old and precious – before cutting them up for collages,” she jokes.
As a commissioner for publishing house Jacqui Small, she was looking for potential publications and struck on an idea that would marry the two.
“I came across this field called modern assembly art,” she says.
“I found there was a trend around the world in ’bot-making.
“It focuses on nostalgic-looking robots, not digital robots. I thought – why not make a book about these robots?”
The book comes with pictures of the completed works, but also how they look before they are assembled as a motley collection of bits and pieces. Like a cookbook, it contains ingredients and methodology – so you can create a robot yourself.
“We wanted the books to have an interactive element – it isn’t a step-by-step guide, but it contains the elements that made the robots, so you can flick back and forth,” she adds.
And she had hands-on experience of making them herself. As the artists involved come from around the world, she had a series of packages posted to her with precise instructions about how to build them, like a flat-pack of robotic art.
“It was such good fun to disassemble and build a robot – and the objects created are just so beautiful,” she says. “I wanted the robots to be very industrial and very figurative.
“They also needed to be free-standing – they are much more fun if you can move them about.
“I had a lot fun photographing them – they really come alive.”
• Assembled: Transform Everyday Objects into Robots! Edited by Eszter Karpati. Jacqui Small £20.