Artist Interviews 2023

By Julia Siedenburg

BREAKFAST Studio which was established in 2009 is a group of highly artistic and extremely innovative robotic kinetic engineers. These masters of their craft have been creating the most fun, mesmerizing sculptures and immersive paintings. I am not overreacting when I tell you that they are geniuses. The pieces of the creatures come to life through movement or stimulation and with that bring an exciting once-in-a-lifetime experience for the viewer.

Safe to say, if I would have one of their works in my home, I would get nothing done because I would spend my days interacting with them and getting drawn into their spell.

I am in love with the pieces they have created so far and watching the matching videos to see how they have been made is just so inspiring. I was lucky enough to have experienced their work in person and I know that I will never forget it. So I knew that I had to ask these amazing gentlemen to tell us a little bit more about their wizardry.

Please enjoy getting your minds blown, dear reader. You are welcome!

What is the story behind your Studio name ‘BREAKFAST’?

When we started BREAKFAST, our goal was to bridge the gap between the digital and physical realms by crafting custom, tangible creations. Despite our backgrounds in art, design, and software, we lacked experience in hardware, so we had to learn quickly by trial and error. We realized that breaking things quickly was an essential part of the learning process, hence the name BREAK-FAST. It represents our commitment to experimenting and pushing boundaries in order to achieve our vision.

You describe yourself as a “group of robotic kinetic artists”’. Could you please further explain what “robotic kinetic art is and what your process from idea to the finished piece looks like?

The idea of robotic kinetic art involves the use of robotics and digital technology to create dynamic and interactive artworks that respond to their environment or are controlled by a computer program. Our process involves conceptualizing an idea for a piece, then developing and engineering a new digitally controlled kinetic medium that can bring that idea to life. This can take well over a year, sometimes multiple years, to perfect the technology and ensure it is engineered for longevity and cost efficiency. Once the medium is ready, we begin to push its creative boundaries, exploring different ways to program and control it to create unique and visually stunning pieces of art.

Your Studio has created the most amazing innovative sculptures, from painting-esque pieces hung on walls to gigantic outdoor models. What is the overall mission/message you want to convey with your work?

For us, creating works that draw attention to social and environmental issues is of great importance. However, we also enjoy creating works that are fun, beautiful, and interactive. Balancing these two elements can be challenging, but we strive to create a common experience that combines them. The experience we try to create is to draw people in through the kinetic movement and interactive nature of the work, but when they happen upon the placard on the wall next to the piece, they discover how the piece is also a data visualization showing the real-time temperature, air quality, water level, CO2 reading, etc. of a particular location. This moment of realization is incredibly satisfying to witness, as it effectively demonstrates the significance of our message.

Your work is nothing like anything I have ever experienced. Seeing and hearing the parts move and it becoming alive is so incredibly fun. What motivated you to combine art and technique?

We believe that the integration of technology and art creates a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of what is possible in both fields. We are constantly exploring new mediums and technologies to create new forms of art that are not only visually stunning but also interactive and engaging for the viewer. The merging of art and technology also allows us to create works that are not constrained by traditional mediums and can be experienced in new and innovative ways.

How did Mattias and you meet and get your robotic kinetic Studio started?

Mattias and I met in the early 2000s, cutting our teeth in the world of Flash websites. This is where we developed our skills in conceiving creative ideas, backend programming, and frontend animation and interactivity. In 2007, we both became interested in extending these skills into electronics and mechanical design/engineering and began working on such projects together, eventually leading us to create BREAKFAST.

Which of your pieces is your favorite/ the one you are most proud of and why?

As artists, it's difficult for us to choose a favorite piece because each one holds a unique significance to us. For instance, some of our works, such as Longyearbyen Warming, which portrays the real-time effects of climate change on the fastest-warming city in the world, carry a deep message that we consider significant. On the other hand, we have pieces such as Pulse, which comprises numerous geometric mirrored bricks that move like the surface of the water, which fascinates us in terms of its aesthetics and movement. In essence, selecting a favorite artwork is akin to picking your favorite child; it's simply impossible.

I personally have seen your interactive kinetic art sculptures at art fairs as well as public places such as the Empire Stores in DUMBO, Brooklyn. How has your experience been in showcasing your work publicly and what would be your dream exhibit location?

Our studio has been in operation for over 14 years, and very few of our sculptures have been accessible to the public. However, recently, we've had the opportunity to display more of our artwork at art fairs and public spaces. It has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for us, and we are eager to exhibit more of our artwork to the public.

In terms of our dream exhibit locations, we have two distinct paths. Firstly, a big part of what we are working on today is creating large-scale kinetic sculptures for city centers, similar to modern-day Eiffel Towers. Secondly, we aspire to exhibit our work at museums like MoMA or the TATE, demonstrating our take on contemporary art while also showcasing how it fits amongst those that came before us.

We see art evolving and moving more and more into the digital world space with NFTs, A.I, Etc. Do you think this is a positive or negative evolution and would you say the fear of losing the original ways of making art is valid?

As artists who began their careers during the rise of the internet, we have witnessed the evolution of technology firsthand. We've heard many people say that the internet would render TV obsolete, but instead, we've seen TV adapt and improve in response. We believe that digital advancements such as AI and NFTs are still in their early stages and will undoubtedly have a place in the art world. However, we don't think they will diminish the significance of more traditional art forms. Instead, we hope that they will inspire artists to expand and explore what makes their work unique. There's no reason why a new medium must replace or devalue what came before it. Rather, we see these technological developments as an opportunity for artists to grow and evolve creatively. Ultimately, we believe that the fear of losing traditional methods of creating art is unfounded.

What is next? What are your plans for the future?

We believe that we are only at the beginning of our artistic journey and have a lot more to accomplish. We are extremely ambitious and aspire to create highly complex technical art that can endure the test of time, even when exhibited outdoors on a large scale. Our goal is to change people's perception of art as a static object and show them that it can be brought to life in mesmerizing ways through movement and interactivity.

In a few months, we will unveil the world’s largest and most extensive computer-controlled kinetic artwork, which we are incredibly excited about. However, we see this as just the beginning of what we can achieve. We have many more projects in the works and are eager to continue pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the world of kinetic art.

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