interview JORGE PEREZCHICA
photography JOHNATHAN ROSS
Tell us how Poetic Kinetics came together as a group of like-minded artists and craftsmen?
We came together in 2008 as a bunch of skilled fabricators and artists who were working or had worked in the film industry and were feeling unfulfilled with the products of our labor; weeks and weeks spent sculpting a unique animal head that blows up three seconds into a movie, for example. Simultaneously we were going to Burning Man and were inspired by what single artists and communities of artists would do for themselves, without the hierarchy of a movie, commercial, or contract of any kind spurring them to action.
Can you tell us about the process of creating your art, from concept to completion?
We start at a round table sort of discussion with questions. Where do our inspirations lie in this? What is the goal of the intended piece? Who is it for? How can we make it interactive? How can we break the horizon? And then once we have a cohesive approach, we move to the computer to make specific drawings. We’ve developed a relationship with JLG that has allowed us to explore and hone in on innovative technologies that allow us to integrate our art with heavy machinery. After the computer, we use our collective skill sets and backgrounds to build the piece from the ground up and the inside out. As we near completion we check in with our engineers to be sure that everything is built according to plan, safe and secure. Each of us has an extreme attention to detail and pride in our work so that as we get ready to fire up the engines for the initial run, we are all thinking of ways to make it better and more awe-inspiring for the festival-goer; be it through the flashy sequined fabric on the butterfly’s legs, or the stamp given to patrons, declaring “I walk butterflies.”
How does it feel to have your work posted and tagged on millions of feeds on social media and has it impacted your approach to art installations?
It feels great! What a wonderful world we live in to be able to see our art across multiple platforms at once, affecting people of all ages. Social media, especially at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, has been an interesting and exciting facet of how the public experiences our art. The interactivity that social media provides is so valuable to the things we create, making them more real: like with the astronaut last year when patrons could tweet their name and a picture of themselves to “become” the astronaut. And then again this year with the beacons in the butterfly and caterpillar that essentially gave the creatures their “voice” so that our caterpillar could tell you when it felt the change coming on after it ate all of the milkweed.
You’ve created iconic large-scale art for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for years now, what keeps bringing you back?
Great people, great exposure. Where else can we make things this big and get such an amazing response? We were really fortunate to place the astronaut in the Science Museum, since their five-story atrium has only inches to spare to get the big white suit all the way upright. But on the field at Coachella, anything is possible and everyone is watching; it’s thrilling.
Many of your pieces allude to nature (snails, flowers, caterpillars, butterflies), yet utilizes technology to bring them to life! What inspires this dynamic in your work?
Technology makes all of our pieces come to life, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, and especially on the scale that we do it, without state of the art technology. Pushing the boundaries of what is new and innovative in the technological world is super exciting to us and pursuing digital fabrication and cutting edge materials and processes allows us to create what we do. As for nature, we submit a wide array of proposals to Coachella and they choose the ones they like. There is a magical experience playing with scale, walking up to something so big that should be so small. But you have to recognize the thing for that to work. If it were abstract, while still cool, it doesn’t generate that same response. And it should be nature or a space traveler because who wants to see a giant sofa or fire hydrant? Oh hey, they have one of those in Beaumont, Texas!
What do you like festival-goers to come away with when they interact with your art?
A sense of whimsy and magic. We want them to experience these creatures we’ve made and be inspired to play, dance, make things of their own, and share. And on their ride home, they realize that they couldn’t have gotten that experience anywhere else.
If money were no object, what would be your dream installation project?
We’ve got a proposal that would make the entire Coachella field an immersive, interactive experience; the installation experience would begin weeks before you arrive at the field, and continue throughout the festival. This installation would incorporate all the things you love about the large creatures, but with the added magic of total and complete immersion into the world we would create in tandem with the festival.