Dieselpunk Motorcycle Mech
Buidling AR-Torito: the first dieselpunk giant sculpture
ORIGINAL ART WORK
Yute and Tocuyo’s Imachinarium
STEP 1: The original idea, the “Retro Moto Taxi” dieselpunk motorcycle mech
Who are the Mechamorphs? Before the pandemic started in 2019 I had the idea of building several giant dieselpunk-style robots inspired by our local and chaotic city traffic. The concept aimed to recreate the Japanese “mechas” (a large armored robot, typically controlled by a person riding inside, from the world of manga and anime) with the Peruvian public transportation system. These included vehicles such as the Bajaj “Torito” or “Little Bull”, Chinesse or Indian manufactured taxis, and small or medium size super polluting colorful buses. I did something similar with my WAKOS Collection of art toy, and which I wrote about in this article.
Also, in this previous article you can find plenty of references of more dieselpunk mechs.
STEP 2: The retro “MotoTaxi” dieselpunk motorcycle mech sculpture, 80cms.
The second iteration of “AR-Torito”, was this 80cms tall sculpture, made for a collector deeply in love with motorcycles. There is a stronger resemblance with the original concept, although the metal work shows a rougher kind of creature. This is because it was made straight from metal scraps (with the help of my dear friend, sculptor, and frequent collaborator Rodney Landauro) and not cast parts, involving hammering and welding. It’s far from polished, but I kind of like that result because it speaks coherently with the world of Yute and Tocuyo’s Imachinarium (check the article), flooded with waste material, trash, rust and broken metal.
STEP 3: Dieselpunk motorcycle Mockup
As I deepen in the psychology of my work I find it is strongly connected to the world of toys. It makes sense when I think about it, and go back into my childhood. I never really left toys behind, I kept playing with them until I was thirteen or fourteen years old. Toys were always with me. Eventually, I started collecting more sophisticated and more expensive iterations of toys, most of them with a solid reference to the pop culture of the eighties and nineties. So when Edi Merida, the sculptor I’m working AR-Torito in Calca, Cuzco, suggested he would make the mock-up from his kid’s used toys, it made complete sense and was coherent with the spirit of the work.
This was also a very practical, simple, and cheap method to create a mock-up, which I plan to replicate in my smaller pieces.
The larger sculpture started there, and you can clearly see that it has a powerful influence on Edi’s vision. Edi brought a more organic and realistic idea to it, creating the sensation of a dieselpunk mech that could actually move.
STEP 4: Building the motorcycle Structure
A bigger scale brings new challenges. It demands, at least for this piece, greater attention to detail. The process resembles creating a living being when the artist has to begin with the bones, the more robust metallic structure, which will then support the “muscles”, and the “skin” or armor in a later stage. It’s a painful and slow process compared to solving a puzzle, in this case, a 100k puzzle with ten times more pieces. In this puzzle it’s not clear where you want to go at the beginning, but, piece by piece the sculpture turns into a living thing and “tells” you what it wants to be.
In the end, the result seems to be a compromise between the idea you have in mind, and how that idea wills itself to life.
STEP 5: Language on top of the dieselpunk
Once the mech is in place, and the character’s posture and look are mostly done, I begin with the “decoration” of its multiple surfaces. This is the fun part, the details that add another layer of meaning.
I’ve always believed I was pretty late to the graffiti boom that has stormed my dear Lima in the last two or three years, and frankly, I do not feel original painting a wall at this point. I don’t feel true to myself and don’t like riding other people’s waves. However, graffitiing a giant sculpture I designed sounds way cooler and more satisfying.
First, there is the character’s originality, the sculpture itself as the proposed canvas, and then there is the language, symbols, and motifs I can place on the work to dress it up, and which are native to the sculpture. For instance, I have created a whole original written language and font, and also a collection of symbols called “Perujis”.
Basically, they are symbols used by one of the inventors and AR-Torito pilot, TOCUYO to communicate. He does not speak, but he paints incessantly these enigmatic symbols. Check them in the image below. Again, they will be the material for a future article.
I will write on the Perujis in a future article, they are a topic in themselves. If you read in Spanish, check this article in The Republica, a very important Peruvian newspaper.
STEP 6: the dieselpunk pilots
The final significant element of the sculpture is the pilots, Yute and Tocuyo. Again, you can learn more about them in this article, “A Diesel Punk Art Odyssey” written by cultural writer and frequent contributor to this website Jonathan Clark
Character is essential as they are a vehicle for the story. We have characters ingrained in our psyche. The cool thing about this sculpture is that it has characters within a character and that sparks curiosity. Yute and Tocuyo are the real protagonists and the masters of the story behind AR-Torito. It’s the story of the Mechamorphs and the Imachinarium. Including them in the mix makes you wonder who are they and what is their goal.
Hence, AR-Torito has to work as the presenter, the powerful door to the larger story of Yute and Tocuyo. That book is in the works and is coming soon.