Sisyphus, A History
Bruce Shapiro quit his job as a doctor 25 years ago to follow his passion: using computer-controlled machines to create art. He discovered that industrial giants like 3M and Honeywell sold their used automation equipment cheaply on the local surplus market, allowing him access to uber-expensive components at pennies on the dollar. His friends and family thought he was crazy, but his wife Beverly supported him. Building one motion control machine after another to enable him to cut algorithmic shapes in wood and metal for his sculptures, the idea behind Sisyphus grew out of a of joking challenge: could he make a robot to rake a Zen garden? No longer tasked with cutting material to be used in making sculpture, Sisyphus was the sculpture itself. It was also unique in another way – it was something he wanted to live with in his home. He has spent the last three years perfecting a home version that is beautiful, near-silent, and will run for years.
Kinetic art, technology and design merged in stunning meditative beauty.
Shapiro owes a great deal to the Maker Movement for helping along the way. His time at a newly formed makerspace in Minneapolis six years ago proved seminal for his artistic development. It was there that Shapiro met Micah Roth – a tall, lanky, quiet dude, with a wry smile – who could make, fix, and figure out just about anything he set his mind to. After a year, six members, including Roth and Shapiro, set off and started their own space – Nordeast Makers. Now four years old, NEM is thriving. It remains integral to the production of Sisyphus, and is just down the hall from Sisyphus Industries' large production space. And Micah, who keeps NEM humming, has joined Bruce and Bev as Chief Operations Officer of their young company.