ASHEVILLE Chas Llewellyn seeks nothing less than to breathe life into a pile of junk.
And that’s exactly what industrial artist Llewellyn does with Salvage-matica, his latest work, which melds sophisticated software programming with material salvaged from junkyards. Programming a suite of multimedia software called Max, Llewellyn animates the metal and wires heaped in his Wedge Studios space. Right now, the software works off a live audio signal, which fires flashing lights and summons a metal creature from the pile. Llewellyn calls it the Junkatron. The software can also be programmed to respond to a voice, a live musician or digital input from electronic instruments.
It’s the latest work from one of the few artists working in Wedge Studios with a direct connection to River Arts District icon John Payne, whose mechanical dinosaurs operated by chains and pulleys fascinated onlookers. Llewellyn, who studied computer science at UNC Asheville, went to work with Payne in the summer of 2008, one year before Payne died.
“After he passed, Tina Councell and I took over the studio and continued on with his work,” said Llewellyn, who sees himself carrying on Payne’s legacy more in terms of the inspiration rather than the exact work.
“I think as an artist, the best thing you can do is endow your energy and your excitement onto other people. So I’m inspired and feel empowered, almost,” he said.
Now that Llewellyn has developed the basic idea, he’s ready to tear it apart and refine it.
“My plan is to dismantle the thing after this weekend and built a bigger, better version that can leave the studio,” he said.
“My real hope is that I can develop an interactive exhibition,” Llewellyn said. “One of the things that really inspired me about John and his work was not just the value of the thing as a passive piece of art, but the fact that it was interactive and people could take control of the machine and make it do what they want it to do. That’s my real passion.”
Llewellyn power his Junkatron from 7-11 p.m. Friday at his space in Wedge Studios, 111-B Roberts St. The studio is the last on the end of the loading dock on the Wedge Brewing side of the Wedge Studios building.