Christian Ristow

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Christian Ristow
Detail from Ristow's "Becoming Human" sculpture
Ristow's "Becoming Human" sculpture, on display at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Born (1970-07-02) July 2, 1970 (age 49)

Christian Ristow (born July 2, 1970) is an American robotic artist. He is known for his robotic performance art under the name Robochrist Industries, his animatronics work in film and television, and his large-scale interactive sculptures.

Life and career[edit]

From 1993 to 1997, Ristow volunteered for the seminal robotic performance art collective Survival Research Laboratories in San Francisco, California.[1] During these years Ristow was involved in several SRL performances, contributing not only props but also, particularly in the years 1996 and 1997, robots that he had constructed.[2] 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.[3]

In 1997 Ristow relocated to Los Angeles to work in the field of animatronics for film and television.[4] Los Angeles also provided fresh audiences uninitiated to the world of robot performance art, which was already becoming well known in northern California.[5] Shortly thereafter the name "Robochrist Industries" was first used 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.

Starting in 1999 Ristow and cohorts began performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. 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.[6]

In early 2006 Ristow again relocated, this time leaving Los Angeles for Taos, New Mexico, effectively killing Robochrist Industries.[citation needed]

The relocation to New Mexico marked a significant turn in Ristow's artistic output, away from robot-based ensemble performances, and in the direction of large-scale interactive sculpture. The list of notable large-scale sculptures built since that time includes Hand of Man (2008), Fledgling (2011), Face Forward (2011), Becoming Human (2014), and With Open Arms We Welcomed That Which Would Destroy Us (2018). These pieces have been shown at Burning Man,[7] the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,[8] Big Day Out (Australia),[citation needed] The Voodoo Experience [9] (New Orleans, Louisiana), Maker Faire,[10] and The Glastonbury Festival [11] (England).


  1. ^ "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Things About Christian Ristow". MAKE. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  2. ^ "SRL Machines". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Art of Burning Man: Horse Cow Gallery". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Christian Ristow". IMDb. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  5. ^ "ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF ROBOTIC ART". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  6. ^ "CSULB Online 49er: v12n62: Music, art, desert vibrant in Coachella documentary film". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Art of Burning Man". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Art of 2014". Coachella. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Did you play with artist Christian Ristow's giant face at Voodoo Fest 2012?". Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Christian Ristow's Hand of Man a Hands Down Favorite At Maker Faire - MAKE". MAKE. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  11. ^ Pretty Good Digital. "Arcadia". Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.

External links[edit]