The giant robot of Ballard.
  • JG
  • The giant robot of Ballard.

There is a robot standing still on somebody's lawn in Ballard. He only moves at night, the people say, when he walks around the neighborhood. Considering what happens every year at night on December 24, presumably, the robot is friends with this guy.

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I discovered this robot sculpture back in October, and reached out to his people via their Castle In the Sky Robot Sculpture account. They did not respond, but their Tumblr answers the basic questions.

Who is the robot?

He is the sad and lonely robot in the Hayao Miyazaki film "Castle in the Sky." You can see him in action in the following trailer for the original 1986 movie.

What is the giant robot made of?

Fiberglass, styrene, foam, and a 3,500-pound concrete pedestal.

Is that eye that looks like a camera actually a camera and you are surveilling me while I'm walking past your house and ogling your robot?

"No. That lens is just its eye," the Tumblr says. (I think I trust this answer, but I am still slightly paranoid, therefore we shall use quotes. They are the "scare" kind because I am scared.)

Are you Jen Graves's favorite robot giant?

No, for sentimental reasons, this guy is, from the 1999 Brad Bird film The Iron Giant.

Was Bird influenced by Miyazaki? And what about Miyazaki's own giant? What is his history?

A discussion.

People leave nice things.
  • JG
  • People leave nice things.

This giant robot is a sculpture. Did you make him yourselves? Are you artists?

(Silence.)

Does he have, like, kin? Are there other Miyazaki robot sculptures out in the world?

There is at least one, at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. Tourists love to take pictures with him. He has spikes on his arms and generally seems scarier than his Ballard brother.

So, what kind of art is the Ballard giant robot sculpture? You know, like, what do the critics say?

The vast majority of art critics to respond to this giant robot in Ballard agree that he is a monument in the classical tradition, yes, but he is also a small local exercise in contemporary social practice. People anonymously exchange gifts by placing them, or taking them from, his big old palm.

They say social practice art is changing the world. Is the giant robot changing the world?

Radically.

Why is there a crotch joke on the giant robot?

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Because of social practice.