11/20/13 6:28am
Sun November 24, 2013
Robots at rest inside the Robotic Church. Photo: Robert Wright

Robots at rest inside the Robotic Church. Photo: Robert Wright

Chances are, being inside a room filled with robots either excites you, or conjures up a sci-fi flick you’d rather not see. For those fascinated by man-like machines, then pencil in the last performances of The Robotic Church Saturday at 7pm and at 8pm on Sunday, both a suggested $10 donation. Housed inside artist Chico MacMurtrie’s Red Hook studio, which doubles as the workshop for his Amorphic Robot Works, 35 of his pneumatic sculptures wait in suspended animation as the audience takes their seat in the makeshift pews, and girds themselves for the unusual mass. Over the course of 30 minutes, these metallic musicians, artists, monkeys, and freaky-looking figures move and make rhythmic, cacophonous music together, all in a soaring space that’s as dramatic and intriguing as the show. (It used to be a Norwegian Seamen’s Church, how cool is that?) The Robotic Church, which is equally fun for kids, coincides with Chrysalis, MacMurtrie’s massive, interactive, inflatable sculpture that evokes molecular structures. It’s just down the street at Pioneer Works, and at 6pm on Sunday (RSVP here), you can catch MacMurtrie himself, making a bold fashion statement in his “Inflatable Architectural Intervention Bodysuit.”

11/19/13 7:10am
Chico MacMurtrie's robotic sculptures, resting on the rafters of the former Norwegian Seamen's Church in Red Hook. Photo: Eve Susman

Chico MacMurtrie’s robotic sculptures, resting on the rafters of the former Norwegian Seamen’s Church in Red Hook. Photo: Eve Susman

On Sunday evening, while looking for The Robotic Church on a dark street in Red Hook, the only indication that service would begin soon was a woman standing outside of a lit doorway, holding a clipboard. We were directed inside a soaring space that looked like the workshop of an inventor who was making a menagerie of metal figures—men, women, monkeys (or maybe dogs?) lying in suspended animation in the corners, atop the rafters, peering down upon us, ready to drum. We signed a waiver (which I didn’t read, but presumably it addressed the treacherous, albeit beautiful, tree-like structure hanging above the audience), and then the artist Chico MacMurtrie, the father of these beings, explained that after touring the world and falling into various states of disrepair, his robotic sculptures were now living out a second life in their new home, where they were installed on multiple levels like saints in a chapel. Before they came to life, we were warned that it might be loud and that the hissing, popping and wheezing of the pneumatically powered robots might scare some children, which comprised about a third of the audience. (more…)

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