I have been working in motion control now for over 15 years, and see no end to the possibilities this new medium presents for artists. However, my original calling was to become a doctor, and I worked for several years as an internist in Los Angeles and Minneapolis before retiring to pursue an emerging interest (read: obscession) with stepper motors--see my brief cv for more details.
A snapshot from around March 1990: with my cutting-edge 286 computer and two stepper motors rescued from an old plotter (remember these from the days before inkjet printers?) and some circuitry, I could move move each motor an exact amount in either direction. I was enthralled. My family were less so. Clearly, I needed something more interesting, and with Easter coming soon I chose to make my first robot: eggbot.
Eggbot was an elegant solution: the two axes were connected directly to the motors shafts, requiring no complicated mechanics. Eggs were cheap, uniform, easy to draw on, and novel. And anyone could immediately understand the medium.
Virtually every machine I have made since then has been a variation on this simple theme. Some of my machines, like the plasma cutter or Bridgeport mill have three axes instead of two. Some, like Pipedream use valves instead of motors. However, the theme in all of my work has been the use of motion control to create art.
I firmly believe that not only is motion control a ripe avenue for artistic expression, but that algorithmic control of motion is itself inherently beautiful.
Bruce Shapiro 1957-
"The Ridge" Home and Studio: Sebastopol, CA
Education: B.S. Biochemistry, U. of Minn. 1978 / M.D., U. of Minn. 1983 / Internship and residency, Internal Medicine-- Harbor/UCLA Med. Ctr., Los Angeles, 1983-6 / American Board of Internal Medicine certification, 1986.
Professional: General internal medicine practice, Los Angeles, 1986-8. / Medical Director of clinical pharmacology testing unit, Hennepin County Med. Ctr. 1988-91. / Director of exhibit design, "The Works" technology discovery center, Ridgedale Center, Minnetonka, MN -- 1996-7 / Artist-in-residence, Science Museum of Minnesota -- 2001-4.
The first incarnaton of this site was posted in October of 1995. Despite my embarrassing lack of updates for the first six years, I received hundreds of emails about the site, from all over the world. If you're curious what it looked like back then, I have archived it and it is available here.
I updated the site in 2001, with the help of my son, Ben. It is now available here.
I am finally updating this site again in 2007, again with Ben's help. In this newest iteration I hope to streamline and reorganize my site so it is easier for anyone, whether artist, robot-enthusiast, teacher, or random viewer, to find what s/he is looking for.
I have to thank and credit Stu Nicholls for creating the css menu (available at http://www.cssplay.co.uk/menus/flyout_4level.html), which saved me untold hassle and time.
As always, please excuse the incompleteness of parts of the site, especially the "Bits to Bytes to Bots" section. I am in the process of documenting projects like "eggbot" with a parts list that draws from widely available sources. But I'm working on it!