The house of computer science teacher Federico Nieto, on De Kay street, in Adrogué, It could be one more house in that town in the south of Greater Buenos Aires. But there is something about it that clearly sets it apart from the rest and makes it a kind of local tourist attraction. Is that in the teacher’s front garden three giant robots of the “Transformers” type stand out. And there is a fourth android, lacking legs, that seems to climb up the chimney of the house.
“Something that makes me happy about having moved to the south is that when we return from the supermarket we pass by a house that has Transformers in the entrance”, the user wrote Karla Peters on Twitter, next to the photo of the robots in the garden of grandchild. Immediately, the publication went viral and more than 93 thousand “likes” greeted the images of the robotic beings that seem to guard the Adroguense house.
“It’s something very strong what happens with people. The robots generate a lot of amazement and a lot of desire to know how it was done. People take a lot of photos. Sometimes they ask me to pass,” he says, THE NATION, Federico Nieto, 37, owner of the house and the robots that stand in his garden. “Once a drunk passed by and watched them for a long time, trying to imitate the postures of the robots,” he recalls, with a smile.
Nieto began putting robots in his house in 2018, as a way to set the scene for the robotics workshop called Cultura Maker, which he offered then and now for children and adolescents in his own home. But the making of the Transformers does not correspond to him, but to the Quilmeño plastic artist Marcelino Gámez, 28, who is a master in the art of making robots with scrap.
Yes. The androids that amaze the residents of Adrogué -and beyond as well- were made with recyclable materials. “They are made of whatever you can imagine: computers, LED screens, motorcycle or car parts, bumpers, fans, car tires, helmets. Many people tell me that what I do looks metallic, but most things are made of plastic, materials that I also use to make them lighter”, he explains, to THE NATION, Gamez.
The artist tells that he studied at the Quilmes School of Fine Arts, and that the robots arose from a project that he had to do in the fourth year of the degree. Gámez was tired of other branches of plastic arts and it occurred to him to innovate: “I made some robots and they loved it. The art of putting together something with recycling began to take shape. At first they were small, but I enlarged them for the final proposal. Many people came to the exhibition at the school, took photos and they went viral. So I started exhibiting in museums”.
Precisely when Gámez exhibited in a museum in Adrogué, Nieto came into contact with his work and asked the artist if he could make a robot for his house. “That’s how we met. We stayed as partners, with a kind of friendship. We are on the same branch, because he is a robotics teacher and we combine. We hit wave It came up and until now we haven’t stopped. We keep growing little by little”, says the artist, who already has other commissions for the garden on De Kay Street. One of them, which is close to completion, is the good old R2D2 (Arthur, in Creole), the nice droid of the saga of Star Wars.
Once he received the robots, which weigh between 50 and 100 kilos, Nieto was in charge of embedding them in the front of his house and putting lights on them. There, the Transformers and the android that hangs from the fireplace are also good promoters of the robotics workshop run by the teacher at home.
The owner of the house, who is in charge of a group of teachers who teach children from the age of five and teenagers, gets excited when talking about his discipline. “Doing robotics is basically stimulating logical thinking. In addition to that, getting children to start developing fine motor skills by building simple things assembled on circuits. Little by little you introduce the boy to what is programming and later on they assemble more difficult things”, says Nieto, who gives a traffic light as an example of some of the robots that are manufactured in the workshop.
The workshops include games to stimulate logical thinking, such as the Rubik’s cube, the tower of Hanoi, or chess. “A little boy has to assemble the Rubik’s cube in as few steps as possible. This is how you understand what an algorithm is. Or the tower of Hanoi. If it does it in too many moves, it means that, if it were a robot, it would be poorly programmed. We are also going to incorporate chopsticks, which stimulate logical mathematical thinking and fine motor skills”, explains the teacher who assures that “a boy who learns robotics well has a real job opportunity and is well paid”.
As an incentive for children who, in small groups, are introduced to the rudiments of robotics, “senior” students have the opportunity to name the robots in the garden. To those who are, and those who will be arriving. Thus, the Transformer verde that is closest to the door of the house bears the name of Juice; the red one that is in attack position was baptized Juanito; and the blue erected in front of a window and closer to the party wall they have put the grace of July.
The one that hangs on a wall, meanwhile, is called Val-21. This specimen, which represents to the android T-800 that persecutes with lethal ends Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, was the only one that, until now, commissioned Grandson to Gamez. The other three,he bought you ready-made.
And it is clear that such works do not go unnoticed in the neighborhood. Something that never ceases to amaze even its own creator. “It’s tremendous. Every day I am more surprised. There are teachers who work at home who tell me that it’s not just once, it’s every day: people stop. Even the policemen who pass by get down to see the robots. I get happy, it’s nice that people like what you do “, points out proudly, Gámez, young recycling artist.
That’s the story behind the Transformers and the T-800 from adrogue that became all the rage on social media. Robotic beings that, instead of causing fear or shock with their fearsome figures, only cause attraction in passers-by and an inevitable catarata the selfies.