In order to create one-of-a-kind sculptures of intriguing and adorable robots, Parisian designer and artist Bruno Lefèvre-Brauer, a.k.a., +Brauer repurposes old mechanical parts. He’s merged his deep love of science fiction with outsider art, and, partly inspired by his collection of Japanese robots, has created a series of 14 handmade industrial golems that appear in Viva la Robolución!—an exhibition at M.A.D.Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland. With names such as Stanislas, Ernest, Cosmos 2001, Hector, and Romeo, each automaton has its own distinct and unusual personality, and like any good artist, +Brauer leaves it up to the viewer to decide which sets of characteristics go with each creation.
With a degree in plastic and graphic arts, +Brauer works as a designer of French album covers while also maintaining his own artistic practice. Born and raised in Paris, he lives and works in the suburbs, while his showroom is at 48 rue de Montmorency in Marais, fittingly in front of the oldest Parisian house, which dates back to 1407.
+Brauer created his first robot 12 years ago, which he describes as "a simple metal case, topped by an insulator, with keys as arms." He adds, "It was a minimalist version of a robot. The shapes of my sculptures have evolved a lot since that time."
In terms of obtaining the wide array of mechanical parts that serve as raw material for +Brauer's robot sculptures, the artist admits he doesn't have any one source. "I've been gathering a stock of material for many years now, through secondhand trade, collecting abandoned objects in the streets [and] scrap-iron merchants," he says. "I also have a good network of artisans who know my work and bring me, from time to time, different objects they have gathered here and there."
Rather than just blindly amassing a hoard of jumbled components, however, +Brauer maintains that as soon as he finds his material, he immediately knows how to put it to use. "The idea comes at the sight of the object," he says. Likewise, he knows from the beginning what kind of robot he want to create by sketching its volume and shape. At that point, he knows exactly what kind of character it will become.
"Each robot has its own personality and its own history," +Brauer explains. "Therefore, the idea of giving them names hits me from the very beginning. I choose their names according to their features. After completing each robot, when I look at it, several names appear to my mind, and I choose the one that corresponds the most to the robot’s personality."
In today's world, the robot symbolizes innovation through the sophisticated application of specialized materials. But in +Brauer's collection, the robots are all made from previously used materials. So as opposed to true robots, each one is solely crafted as an aesthetic object. As Brauer puts it, each object symbolizes "a poetic resistance to overconsumption."
"If each piece is different, all these robots put together create a unit, a family, a peaceful army that fights against obsolescence," +Brauer says. "Which shows us that we can reuse objects rather than throw them away."
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