Kal Spelletich was born and raised in Davenport Iowa, recently named “America’s Worst Place to Live.” He started working at his father’s construction company when still a child. Shortly after being given a chemistry set at the age of nine, he started blowing up stuff, experimenting with electricity, fire, alchemy and constructing tree houses and boats to launch on the Mississippi river. Kal ran away from home at the age of 15 and started squatting abandoned buildings and living on the streets. He worked as a dishwasher, cook, carpenter, auto mechanic, day laborer, plumber, salesman, teacher, union factory worker, stagehand, fix it guy. Discovered art through a camera. He somehow put himself through college and graduate school.
Kal founded Seemen, an interactive machine art performance collective, in 1988. Kal has collaborated with Survival Research Labs and countless others from rock bands to scientists, politicians, NASA, Hollywood television and filmmakers. He curates art exhibits and is involved in political activism. He works on the waterfront of San Francisco scouring junkyards and dumpsters for industrial items whose technology can be reapplied. Exploring the boundaries between fear, control and exhilaration by giving audience members the opportunity to operate and control some downright dangerous machinery. His work has terrified and thrilled tens of thousands of people all over the planet, gotten him in trouble with the law and thrown out of galleries. People have cried, he has been threatened with violence and lawsuits and his work has been banned. For 28 years he has been experimenting with interfacing humans and technology to put people in touch with intense real life experiences and to empower them. Kal’s work is always interactive, requiring a participant to enter or operate the piece, often against their instincts of self-preservation.
He sometimes teaches at Universities, lectures, presents workshops and exhibits around the world. And Kaltek University.