Pushing Puppet Boundaries - "Picasso" the Gorilla Lives!!

       First, so much thanks to the Center for Puppetry Arts, Micheal Haverty and XPT (Experimental Puppet Theater) and my amazing collaborator, Julia Hill!  
      After being accepted into the 2011 XPT showcase as the only art installation, Julia and I teamed up once again to create our most ambitious and unique creature to date. Over 3 months of planning, sketching, and experimenting with materials, we knew we wanted to create something we'd never seen before. Through trial and error, inspiration and injury (fiberglass hurts!), "Picasso" the gorilla was born.

      "Picasso" is almost entirely constructed of fiberglass rods and "kite" connectors.  His skin is a light-weight fabric that is attached "panel by panel" to each quadrant.  His legs hide jumping stilts, allowing the puppeteer to jump and run.  We fabricated custom arm stilts that lock your arms into a comfortable position transferring weight to the shoulders and back.  "Picasso" is the actual size of a silver back gorilla but the entire puppet weighs less than 15 pounds (not counting jumping stilts).  His head, weighing in at 2 pounds, is mounted to a bike helmet. Shoulders are attached to arms and his backside is belted on. At night, he lights up with the help of 10 LED's mounted around the inside of his body and under his eyebrow. 
     Artistically, we wanted to explore how we perceive shapes and colors.  How our eyes put shapes together and find new lines in the negative space.  We attempted to innovate on the contemporary idea of puppet design and construction and in the process, tried to blur the lines between art and puppet. But most of all, like real gorillas, we wanted to make him beautiful.

Besides these videos, you can watch a short slide show of the building process on my Art Portfolio page.  Enjoy.

Episode 1 - The Building Begins 

Episode 2 - Intro to XPT and "Picasso"

Episode 3 - Preview night of XPT 2011 @ CPA

Episode 4 - Play time with "Picasso" - Last night of XPT

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