Steven Laurie & the Art of the Motor



My work consists of designing and fabricating functional homebrew prototype machines, handheld power tools and site-specific installation projects. Crossing the traditional disciplines of performance art, kinetic sculpture and mark-making, I develop tradeshow style displays and tool demonstrations that pare down subversive activities like burning rubber, engine revving and subwoofer thumping to a form of sub-cultural utterance.


It’s from a personal connection to a blue-collar lifestyle that my artwork hints towards pastime activities like customization, modification and maintenance as insightful moments of spatial production and cultural expression.

I am curious to the function of this mechanical ‘squawk’ and it’s connection to working-class cultural kinship. Considered by some people as “hyper-masculine” or “boy art”, my work provokes discourse around ideas of class based masculine identity through the material choices and reinforcement of automotive / technological horseplay.


The reading(s) of the machine work and public projects I develop cannot avoid being affected by technological, political and economic change. Designing machines with the soul purpose of paring down cultural practices like burning rubber and engine revving to a quasi utility is bound to attract both negative and positive criticism.


The images I am using in the Branding Iron project are derived from a range of sources, which include popular tattoos, automotive decals, branded accessories and iron-on imagery.

Riding both an iconic and nostalgic subtext, these silhouette images for the most part point toward some of the interests shared amongst blue-collar and working-class subcultures. Even though these images conjure up a “dated” and overshadowed approach to mechanical muscle, they still share the sense of loyalty seen in contemporary forms of horsepower pushing and customization.