XOXO: Adam Savage - Mythbusters and Tested

Adam Savage is an obsessive model maker, passionate defender of maker culture, and the co-host of Mythbusters and Tested.

The Details

Adam Savage

Projects: Mythbusters and Tested

XOXOing: Science and Making

Adam comes on stage to a title: “I’m a maker.”

Adam has a shop in San Francisco where he does his work. What does he do there? “I copy.”

Adam frequents the Replica Prop Forum online, where he started asking for items from The Bourne Identity, so he could fill out the burn bag prop that he got from the movie. Over 1,165,000 people have watched the video of him detailing this level of obsessively detailed copying in the last 10 days. His hat is an exact replica of Harrison Ford’s hat in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s one of the rare films that holds up both as influential and watchable.

Deborah Nadoolman designed the Thriller outfit, the Blues Brothers, and the original Indiana Jones outfit. The Adventure-Built Hat Company charges over $600 for replicas of that Indiana Jones hat, and when the fourth movie was being made, they got asked to actually make the hats for the filming.

They moved from Fanboy to Craftsman to Authority.

Fans have built exactingly detailed clones of Iron Man, but many have misgivings about young people expending so much of their effort making copies of pop culture artifacts. Adam disagrees, since that inspiration is what led directly to his work today.

There are extreme parallels between ant colonies and the layers of infrastructure in modern cities, so it’s not so far-fetched to think of ourselves as part of a larger collective organism.

As an artist, Adam began his career doing sculpture, ones that were sometimes seen as violent. If we look at the history of portraiture or landscape, it raises the question of “What is culture?” Trains, the telegram, and the end of continental exploration in the U.S. all happen at the same time a century ago, leading to a blooming of art where artists are having a conversation with their culture. Both Star Wars and Raiders are movies about movies, as Cabin in the Woods is today. Culture is a conversation.

This leads to the idea of the “collective unconscious”, which means that when Adam says “I copy.”, he’s participating in a conversation with his culture.