Mark Pauline, the bespectacled 58-year-old artist who founded Survival Research Labs(SRL), is a terrorist–at least in the eyes of the city of San Francisco. Pauline creates giant, clawed, fire-breathing robots, using masses of unstable explosives to create performance pieces that look more like Bosch’s visions of purgatory than Pixar’s visions of WALL-E. Once, while performing in his Bay Area hometown, Pauline was arrested for arson with intent to injure the public, a terrorist charge. Another time, he had a working accident that resulted in two of his own toes being stitched onto his hand.”I wanted to grow up and fight the power,” recalls the artist, citing the Weather Underground as the primary influence on his current work. “And I ended up growing up and doing this instead.”
Check out one of Pauline’s SRL performances below. We promise you’re a safe distance away from the explosions, just make sure your volume is turned way down.