Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Welcome to the intricate and amazing mechanical found junk sculptures of Belgian artist Stephane Halleux.

Are they not way cool?

There I was, previewing the Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts program over the weekend, when I was beguiled by French filmmaker Laurent Witz's Mr. Hublot.

It's a delirious steampunk fantasy in which Halleux's wacky world of stitched leather cars, mechanical insects, toaster dogs, keypad clothing and serenely winged humanoids comes to life onscreen.

When I looked up Halleux online, I was delighted by the variety and sheer ingenuity of his work. The time it would take just to assemble all these gears, springs, sprockets, rotary blades, clockface dials, bits of pipe, random handles, and grilles is daunting enough.

Then consider the unfettered imagination required to put them all together in such weird and wonderful ways!

Some exhibition sites refer to Halleux's work as "toys," and there is certainly an element of that in their 3D solidity. Maybe it's my misspent past as a doll collector and dollmaker (mine were scrap fabric dolls) that makes me so responsive to these little guys.

Who could resist the urge to pose them and play with them? Let alone the urge to make up stories about them! (Although that might be strictly a writer's thing...)

Now imagine them animated and moving around in an entire retro-urban, slightly crumbling mechanical landscape inspired by the Halleux aesthetic. That's Mr. Hublot.

The Oscar Nominated Shorts programs (one live-action, one animated) opens Friday. (Read my Good Times review here.) But in the meantime, feast your eyes on Halleux's work!

Visit his website (Luddite Alert: it's tricky, so remember to hit every tiny blank square on the Home page to see a selection of work).

Or just Google his name and hit Images.

Prepare to be amazed!

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