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Robochrist Industries is a robotic performance art troupe most notably recognized for its performances in and around Los Angeles during the years 1997 - 2005. The performances feature large radio-controlled robots moving among and eventually destroying props and set-pieces intended to convey specific theatrical narratives. The troupe is a direct offshoot of Survival Research Laboratories and was featured briefly in "Coachella", the feature-length film documenting the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
From 1993 to 1997, Christian Ristow, who would later go on to found Robochrist Industries, volunteered for the seminal robotic performance art collective Survival Research Laboratories in San Francisco, California. During these years Ristow worked on several SRL performances, contributing not only props but also, particularly in the years 1996 and 1997, robots that he had constructed. During this period Ristow also participated in several collaborative performances with another San Francisco based performance group, The Seemen, including the often cited Hellco performance at the 1996 Burning Man festival.
In early 1997 Ristow relocated to Los Angeles in search of film special effects work as well as fresh audiences uninitiated to the world of robot performance art. Shortly thereafter the name "Robochrist Industries" was first employed and a small group of volunteers coalesced to form a working performance group. The gradual inclusion of artistic and technical professionals from disciplines such as film special effects and the aerospace industry helped fuel larger and more frequent shows over the ensuing years. During this time there was significant crossover, both in terms of personnel and co-performing, with the performance-art/musical outfits Woodpussy and The Mutaytor.
Starting in 1999 Ristow and cohorts began performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The performances at the first two years of the festival, 1999 and 2001, were relataively modest, featuring only two or three robots with few props. The four performances from 2002 to 2005, however, saw greatly expanded crew sizes, increasingly ambitious, complex props, and set pieces intended to convey theatrical "narratives". These shows represented the apex of the group's activities, both in terms of fully realized spectacle and audience exposure. The 2006 film "Coachella" features footage culled from Robochrist performances from several different years as well as a brief interview with Ristow.
In early 2006 Ristow again relocated, this time leaving Los Angeles for Taos, New Mexico, effectively killing Robochrist Industries, at least in terms of its Los Angeles incarnation. Future incarnations or use of the name are unknown at this time.