Bruce Shapiro

Bruce Shapiro – Bio

Shapiro trained as a physician and practiced for five years in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, before becoming obsessed with connecting motors to computers. While not unhappy working as an internist, he transitioned out of the field in the early 90’s in order to pursue his growing interest in algorithmic art, and to spend more time at home with his young children. Once they were in grade school, he was able to devote himself fully to the development of motion control hardware and software for use in the artist’s studio.

Dedicated to fostering the idea of motion control as a burgeoning new medium for artists, he currently divides his work between creating large-scale installations for science and art centers, and teaching youths the basic skills needed to enter the field. His most recent installations include “Pipedream III,” a large wall of tubes which creates images composed of bubbles, at the Science Centre of Ontario, in Toronto (June, 2006), and “Ribbon Dancers,” two robots suspended from the ceiling of the Science Center of Iowa, in Des Moines, which perform ribbon dance continuously (November, 2006).

Sisyphus IV
Custom hardware and software, Bruce Shapiro, 2004

For the crime of cheating death, Sisyphus is condemned to push his boulder up the mountainside each day, only to watch it roll down. Forever. As in the myth, Sisyphus IV carves intricate dune patterns, only to erase them and begin again. The paths are created using mathematical themes and stored. They are then read by the control program and translated to position commands sent to two motors arranged in a polar coordinate system, which positions the magnet beneath.

Sisyphus IV was built to allow it to travel (light and collapsible). It has visited New York City, San Francisco, Fort Worth, Texas, Breckenridge, Colorado and Dublin, Ireland. Sisyphus III (3-meter diameter) is permanently installed at Technorama, The Swiss Science Center, Winterthur, Switzerland. Sisyphus II was built at The Exploratorium, in San Francisco, and has resided there since 2003.