"Every boy is fascinated by science fiction," says Tal Avitzur. "I guess I never grew out of it." That's an understatement, given the futuristic masks and robots that populate Avitzur's Santa Barbara home. And when he was working on his house, he wanted a concrete countertop but couldn't resist embellishing it. "I looked for scrap metal to embed in it," he says, along with small gears and cogs. "I'd find such cool things. They looked like robot parts."
"A native of Pennsylvania, Avitzur graduated from UC Santa Barbara, left the area, and then returned to Santa Barbara more than two decades ago. An adjunct professor of math at Santa Barbara City College, he's been producing his winsome "Talbotics" for the last two years.
"They've evolved," he says, into robots that might reach several feet tall. Though the figures don't move, their eyes do light up with color-changing LEDs.
From his scrap yard forays, Avitzur brings back metalwork that catches his eye - perhaps and old bread hook or a boat pump - then cleans and polishes it. Working in a garden-shed studio, "I'll start laying parts out and see what goes together," he says. He'll drill holes to fit it all together. "Figuring out how to attach everything. That's the trick."
BY GARY MOSS, PHOTO EDITOR
What is it with my love of mechanical stuff? Shooting our "Craft Goes Contemporary" feature (page 62), I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Tal Avitzur, the artist who creates eclectic, whimsical robots he calls "Talbotics." His studio was filled with gears, gauges, and odd machine parts that seemed to come from an extraterrestrial flying saucer. I felt I was in a mad scientist's lab and loved being there. I wanted to capture Avitzur as his own creation, by photographing him with this retro light fixture turning him into one of his glowing robots.
Gary Moss teaches Camera Whisperer Photographic Workshops on a variety of topics. Visit garymossphotography.com.