American tech artist, Mark Dotzler (born and raised in St. Louis) loves metal, science, and technology. Throughout his career, he has contributed to many high-end fabrication projects with wooden and metal architectures. His work consists of details that can be invisible to the naked eye, ranging from pieces appearing like modified batteries that curves (created from a machine gun ammo belt feed that’s like a continuous track on a tank), to decorated poles, to protruding pieces, etc. One look at his work and you will immediately notice his gift.
His sui generis work contemplates contemporary nomenclature, relational dimensions, and material, societal issues. His 2001 piece “Inside, Joe” showcases exactly how he can tackle complex relational and societal issues. In “Inside, Joe,” there is an elevated zero shape inside a presentation case. “Inside, Joe” refers to the inside of Richard Serra’s Joe sculpture (in the inner metal) and also Joe Pulitzer’s love for art (shown in the arts foundation that he and Emily collaborated on).
A companion piece to “Inside, Joe” is “Missing, Joe," representing that Joe was missing from the leadership desk and never got to see the foundation for the arts that he and Emily planned together. The petite sculpture “Missing, Joe” is made out of that same piece of COR-TEN steel, (It’s the void at the center of “Inside Joe”), where the rust forms a protective layer.
“Baby Monitors,” a powerful installation piece showing a baby doll holding a Facebook symbol, yet is trapped in a secret place. It is a controversial piece and the freethinker, Mark, felt that expressing his knowledge with creativity is more important than a what viewers think.
Influenced by the minimal artists of the 20th century, Mark uses more scientifically advanced materials prevalent to society today, instead of industrial materials from the 60s. Ranging from computer microchips (silicon wafers), aerials and thermionic valves (early binary code devices), to computer hard drives, are some materials he started using at the age of forty.
Some of Mark’s recent exhibitions include “Personal Structures” at the “Venice Art Biennale” (2017) and the “Time Space Existence” at the “Biennial Architecture Exhibition” (2018).
Mark Dotzler exhibited with professors from Washington University’s School of Art in Saint Louis. He has pieces at the “Pulitzer Arts Foundation“ and has done monumental outdoor commissioned, sculptural work for the Catholic Church. Well, Mark can probably make a dustpan appear like preferable art.
In 2007, you constructed outdoor work for the Catholic Church in Chicago. If you had the thought of meeting everyone’s expectations, was it overwhelming? The cross you designed for the church is called “Cross Shadow,” gives many churchgoers a resounding sense of warmth. The piece is a high grade, stainless steel, and weighs approximately 5,000 pounds.
One problem during that project happened towards the very end of planning stage…when I was asked to change certain dimensions which led to other problems that had me considering dropping the project completely. I reluctantly did end up making a few slight alterations, that still bother me to this day, because the true art and beauty of my design was set in those original dimensions.
“Wired”, ’50”H x 109”W x 12”D.’ ©. 1993. All Rights Reserved.
You have collaborated with John Lesch (a wood master craftsman) for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (designed by Japanese architect, Tadao Ando). What was the greatest memory throughout the entire collaboration process?
It would have to be delivering Emily Pulitzer’s desk to the Pulitzer. John Lesch and I had to carry that desk up a very steep and long chair case (no hand rail)… with Emily and Mrs. Cash (Emily’s assistant with an english accent) looking down at us from way up at the top, as we struggled up those stairs with that giant white oak desk. And then later the memory of being given the opportunity to create a very special desk set (see Binary), that I decided early on I would create out of COR-TEN steel to play off the enormous Richard Serra sculpture, just outside the window.
“Hot Tale”, ‘48”H x 12”W x 11”D.’ ©. 1996. All Rights Reserved.
In your 2010 interview, “Art is Moving,” you were asked, “Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?” You were undecided on the course of your future because life is unpredictable. It has been over 5 years from now. Would you say you are proud at how things turned out with your art career or do you always want to compete with yourself? Are you an over-thinker as an artist or do you go with the flow?
I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved, but there is much more I want to do…and yes, I sometimes do overthink things and other times I just go with the flow… I love the flow.
“Wireless World” ‘21”H x 4”W x 4”D.’ ©. 2001. All rights Reserved.
One of the things I deeply admire about you as a person is that you refuse to conform to societal issues, are a freethinker, and is willing to tackle arduous work to meet your standards. You are obsessed with technology. When did you first realize your knack for technology?
I always liked building things…when I was sixteen, I turned a bunch of old oily parts into Harley chopper. While living in San Francisco, at the beginning of the eighties, I (of course) became very interested in technology…I still clearly remember the first time I sat down with an Apple II in Marin County… I bought my first computer in 1983 while living in Hong Kong.
“Sync”, ‘19”H x 4.25”W x 5.5”D.’ ©. 2018. All Rights Reserved.
Looking back on your career, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
I think my Binary (COR-TEN DeskSet) at the Pulitzer is a very good pc. that takes Nicolas Bourriaud’s concepts of relational aesthetics to much higher level.
You are intelligent enough to notice how the Laws of Physics work. You are not alone when you believe that the World Trade Center was an inside job. It is argued that the CIA invented the term “conspiracy theory” to turn any label into a negative too for political propaganda. There is plenty of information about this on the internet, but many people blindly accept what the media tells them. Coming from an innovative sculptor, how would you enlighten others how the World Trade Center fell down?
The words “conspiracy theory” were intentionally turned into a very effective, weaponized term, meant to stop people from thinking any further or basically thinking at all. Our current PC culture is ridiculous and very dangerous for humanity. George Orwell and aim of Newspeak clearly illustrated the many dangers that arise from the subversion of language.
To learn about what happened at the World Trade Center, just watch the collapse of Bldg. 7 a few times (also see BBC's Jane Standley coverage). More info is available on my site at The Split support page.
“Telco, Flying Head.”. © 2009. All Rights Reserved.
How much of a role does Nicolas Bourriaud and Theodor Adorno play in your life?
I liked some of their thoughts, but only as starting points…the more important thing to me was my own interpretation of their thoughts and the multitude of ideas that arose thereafter…for example the concept of the relational aesthetics of everything.
Do you sketch out your designs before they are finished?
Sometimes…but other times things just come together naturally…those are joyful moments.
“Favorites” ‘11”H x 11”W x 11”D.’ ©. 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Are there any projects you look forward to sharing with us?
I’m looking forward to some breakthroughs in the new works that are coming.
You have a lot you seem to want to get off your chest. Your 2018 piece “Baby Monitors” shows a baby doll in a secret place holding up a Facebook symbol. Would you say this piece speaks out against children trafficking? There are actually Facebook groups made for pedophiles that do not get banned and messages that speak out against hatred gets banned.
Yes. And the use of adrenochrome.
“Reload (Vicious Circle)” ‘9.5”H x 9.5”W x 9”D.’ ©. 2019. All rights Reserved.
You can have a no laughing matter approach to creating at times. Have you ever been planning on creating with the intentions of the project to not be controversial and it just is?
What is your favorite medium to use while you are creating?
I love metal…and lots of other things too.
“Reload (Constant War)" ‘14”H x 45”W x 16”D.’ ©. 2006. All Rights Reserved.
What was the exact moment like when you first realized you were a sculptor?
Exhilarating. It’s great story, but too long for this article.
How did you learn to weld?
Actually, to learn how complicated fabrication projects were planned and executed, I spent many years working under various master craftsmen…one of them being a Hungarian gentleman who specialized in high end metal fabrication. I learned a great deal from that man.
If you want to keep updated with Mark Dotzler’s latest work, here is his website:
Dotzler, Mark. “Aspects of The Art.”
Dotzler, Mark. “Binary”
Dotzler, Mark. “The Split”