Hi friends, past, present and future.
I’m Trace O’Connor, one-man sculpture show in Fort Collins, Colorado. If you’re here, I’ve piqued your interest via my kickstarter project, my social media blasts (thanks for putting up with those), or just plain old word of mouth. Thanks for tuning in and helping me provide this art for our community. I really appreciate the extended effort of navigating past the first links.
Odds are good that you’d like a little more information on the current Herculean project at hand, One More Time, so here’s a little backstory on me, my approach, and One More Time’s origin.
You never know what’s going to come out of the mind of an artist. 2008
I started Molotov in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2005 in the interest of making a pool table for my sister. I was 23, pretty fresh out of college, and renting a studio space for the first time. I’m very excited to still be on that same path all these years later. That pool table is still around, though if I were to make another one, I’d do it way differently. I used to make about 90% or so of my work from scrap metals like salvaged steel piping, aluminum fan blades, mangled sheet stainless, all that. In 2011 I couldn’t take the humidity anymore, so I moved to Colorado and started buying new materials, not so much as a preference, but out of necessity. I had a 45-acre scrapyard in North Carolina to pick through at my leisure. I took the resource for granted, having grown up there and just expecting that sort of thing to be everywhere but didn’t have such an amenity in northern Colorado. In fact, the only yard within three hundred miles that you can even buy anything from is in Colorado Springs, two hours away. I found a love for clean, modern lines because of it, but this didn’t in any way change my love for an organic aesthetic. I still really appreciate fluid lines and powerful compositions.
Iscariot concept model, 2008
That’s about where One More Time comes into the story. I love the concept of rendering, that is, taking one form or iteration of a concept and looking at it through a different lens. This could be as simple as a book or movie being adapted for the stage (Evil Dead, the Musical), musicians covering songs in a completely different genre (Johnny Cash on Nine Inch Nails) or even something like my favorite kids movie: Lego Batman (Toy becomes popular separate of Batman becoming popular, then the two come together for a big screen appearance).
Years ago, I fell in love with the rendering concept of “planar analysis” thanks to a college drawing professor named Mark Gottsegen. This is a process in which one breaks down any normal object like an apple, an old pair of boots, a desk lamp or whatever into individual constituent adjacent surfaces. Suddenly that apple is made up of a hundred different little planes but unmistakably an apple still. I’ve sculpted in many ways in my professional life, wax work, clay, wood carving, fabricated metals, even snow and ice. I’d often do a planar analysis just for fun on various objects in various media.
Planar faceted snow wolf, howling at the moon. Colorado State Snow Sculpting Competition, 2017.
Throughout all the different disciplines and approaches, I’ve loved the human figure. Recently, I’ve challenged myself with attempting to make a humanoid rendering that’s succinctly abstract and highly distilled into its form and gesture like how Piet Mondrian could distill an entire landscape into just a few lines and colors. It’s been very difficult for me. Each sculpture discipline has its own merits and drawbacks. Wax is free of limitations but it’s messy, sticky, temperature sensitive and doesn’t lend itself well to straight lines. Drawing is fast and easy but requires intense skill to render facets such that the composition doesn’t overwhelm the viewer and overlap itself in the process, failing to convey the subject matter. Digital programs illustrate much better but take time, both 2D and 3D, to learn and execute with finesse. I’m up to the challenge. I’ll have to use a combination of all these different techniques to properly show the world this idea.
One More Time wax studies, 2021
One More Time 2D digital concept study, 2021
Last year in 2021, just as planet earth was starting to level out from the pandemic, just when we thought we knew what we were up against, glimmers of hope, lights at the ends of tunnels, etc., we were dealt another blow. The band Daft Punk didn’t just disband, one of the only two members… exploded. If you haven’t seen their last (last) video on YouTube, honestly I don’t know that I’d want to. If you’re unfamiliar, Daft Punk was an amazing dance music power band, and the leading pioneer in a huge array of approaches to electronic music. Their repertoire is vast and varied. They had slow love songs, bumpin’ instrumentals, nonsensical scratching and huge genre anthem bangers. Auto-tune as a concept owes its widespread popularity to these guys and a small handful of other artists. They struck their own path. They weren’t afraid to just make some rad sound and see who was down to rock out with them. The vibe was ever positive. Those videos you see of quiet rooms full of people all wearing headphones that are blasting the same tune- they call that a silent disco. All the people are just grooving and dancing around with the same half grin and elated look in their eyes. THAT’S what Daft Punk did. Every track was positive and uplifting, putting pep and love into the steps of everyone who bothered to give them a spin.
Guy and Thomas (“Ghee and Toh-mahhs”- They’re French, remember?) Spotted at the Atlanta Dragon Con. That’s my reflection in Thomas’ helmet. Seen here waiting for the elevator. They never took the costumes off. 2018
The face of electronic music today, and lots of music in general was sculpted by these guys in the 90’s. They’re artists to the bone, or circuit board as it may be. The duo never, ever showed their identities to the public, always clad in perfect robot costume regalia in front of tens of thousands of spectators on any given night in their heyday. The two each wore helmets with polished, reflective gold and chrome sheens and digital display surfaces WITHOUT FAIL. They never performed without them, maintaining their pop culture anonymity. They weren’t afraid to just perform electronic art, even against the mainstream pop grain. In that last video, they depicted a scene in which one of the robot band members just… didn’t want to go on doing his robot thing anymore, asking his long-time collaborator to engage his self-destruct. Long story short, tick, tick, boom. My heart sank, watching the expressionless robot gaze from his cohort. I mean we’re talking a Han & Chewie or Calvin and Hobbes level of wingman life commitment here! It was jarring. I was legitimately disturbed, especially since I just watched it without knowing that was going to happen. I thought about their last moments, having worked side-by-side for nearly thirty years. How they had been with each other through all kinds of highs and lows, solved thousands of problems together, grown together, helped each other, and enriched each other’s lives. I thought about how their spirits would look on the inside, all code and projected avatar. I asked myself how best to capture those beings of interdimensional positivity in an embrace that would elementally stand the test of ages. Then, I thought of how to show how they had changed each other’s lives. Obviously, their respective colors would transcend their terrestrial forms. Their spirits would be free of their previous shells and be transformed and perfect. What does the ghost of a robot look like? After some rattling around inside my head, their cast settled onto the shapes depicted here, their shining exteriors the only lasting distinguishing mark. I took a step back after the dust settled between my ears and thought that this idea isn’t just about this French electronica band. It’s about life. It’s about being a human and having a connection to other energies besides our own. Being helped, being strong, just being there for someone. Saying hello, saying “I’m here”, or saying goodbye. I have to bring it to the world.
2D One More Time (shown here without color trade), 2022
The gaze of the ghost of a robot, 2022
One More Time is different from anything I’ve ever done before but is simultaneously the culmination of everything I’ve ever attempted. This piece will start life as a stack of mirror-reflective stainless steel sheets, four feet by eight feet by one sixteenth inch thick. Their cumulative thickness will be less than one inch tall but when I’m done with them, they’ll tower twice human size or more. Two separate, succinctly abstract figures will be in a standing embrace, sharing a moment together, saying whatever they have to say to one another. One figure will be all completely reflective mirror, and the other electro-chemically plated 24-karat gold. Where they meet, they will trade colors for those facets and the surrounding facets. Each and every nuance will pass through my hands. All decisions on form and fitment will be up to me. No more trusting that scrapyard to impart its ancient texture and tarnish. One More Time will not only be gleamingly, lustrously new and untouched, it’ll be novel- not just fresh off the presses, but never before seen. One can find some similar art on the web, but the sculptures are typically small, symmetrical and not particularly dynamic. This piece will be the gateway for an entire new species of these sculptures that will emerge one by one. This series will flow forth into the world and help the world understand. I’m obviously very excited to share them with everyone.
One More Time color trade in progress, 2022
Thanks a million for listening to all this. Again, if you’d like to be a part of the process, funding, marketing or otherwise- now’s the time. Raise your hand. I’d love some help. I hope you appreciated the story as much as I appreciate your time. Please share around and consider backing my kickstarter campaign. I have plenty of perks and throwbacks to give donors a memento from contributing in manifesting this idea. If you’re in the northern Colorado area or are planning to be in late 2023, you’ll be able to stop by and see the sculpture for yourself and take photos with it if you like, showing the world art that you directly helped bring to life. Also, remember that all proceeds that surpass the amount necessary to complete the project will be split into thirds- one third to the American Cancer Society, one third to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and lastly, one third to the subsequent project (which again, will be electrified and EPIC).
Cheers to being a part of other people’s lives and trading colors. Thanks again for funding. Thanks again for watching.
That’s it for Trace. We’ll see you in that first project production update video!
Leave the world in better condition than you found it.