Clayton Bailey

Clayton Bailey

Clayton Bailey's Studebaker Robot Radio

Upon my arrival of the San Jose Museum of Modern Art, I learned that they are currently displaying an exhibition about robots. Being an area of great interest to myself, I was excited and ventured in. Among other very impressive displays, like a 20 foot tall Styrofoam robot statue, countless toys and models, and even the music video All Is Full of Love by Bjork (in which two crash test looking robots share an intimate moment on screen), I found the ceramic work of Clayton Bailey.

A California native, Clayton's work is straight out of a post-cold war techno-fantasy. His robots look like they could have been on The Jetsons, had it not been a cartoon. One piece of work in particular caught my eye. "Studebaker Radio Robot", completed in 1977 here in California. He crafted this robot using porcelain, and then applying a color glaze. It looks like an old 50's radio has been given arms and legs, and even robotic facial features. It stands about two feet tall, and is flanked by two other ceramic robots on each side. If I had to guess as to how it was constructed, I would say he began with clay slabs to build the rectangular body. Then, there are coils on the front, which comprise the radio components. The also might have rolled out clay slabs for the arms and legs, then rolled them into cylinders. The rest was probably hand work - adding detail, carving relief, and applying buttons and knobs.

The concept of Clayton's work is very apparent - He has a genuine love for antique and old things "of the future". I visited his website after the museum, and looked at his collection of ceramic and metal robots. He also has a gallery of metal ray guns he has built. Clayton is keeping the old image of the humanoid robot alive. In this day and age, robots come in all shapes and sizes, and seldom do they look anything like these artistic humanoids. If, someday, Clayton's robots take on real life, shape,...

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