Sean Robertson Repurposes Old TV Sets into Weird Art

Whether you know the name Sean Robertson or not, chances are you’ve seen his art installations: Old, recycled television sets ranging in size and stacked on top of each other like wrapped gift boxes underneath a Christmas tree, sometimes among a couple of rescued suitcases and mannequins sticking out. These visually stunning sets have made the SanTana-based Robertson a sought-after artist for many local art shows, bar shows and festivals that want a visual art component for their event.

But before he began working in art, Robertson was a musician for years. It wasn’t until he and a friend collaborated on a conceptual music project called Datadrone that he developed an interest in tinkering with technology. Datadrone performed shows with television sets and projections of self-produced videos that were synced with the narrative-driven music. After that project fizzled out, Robertson had leftover television sets that he decided to use for installations, as well as an interest in producing warped, experimental videos which would make the Residents jealous. The 47-year-old continues to shoot and edit strange, looped videos and plays them during his installations, adding to his surreal vision.

Robertson doesn’t claim to be an electrician; he just enjoys the adrenaline of having to fix logistical problems on the spot “because every time I have problems I gotta troubleshoot and figure it out, and I learn something new out of it. . . . I’m doing these things usually in a [dark] bar setting with drunk people walking around.”

A heavy multitasker, Robertson is always working on multiple projects at once, stop-motion animation projects to mixed media paintings, which can all be found on his Instagram @seanrobertson. In the meantime, he’s perfectly at ease with people recognizing him from his eye-catching set-ups. “I see a lot of strangers taking pictures of my installs, and I’ve often thought, ‘Damn, I must be one of the most photographed installation [local artists] around,” he says. “And it’s true, because they’re so interesting-looking.”

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