While our modern day gadgets are certainly compact and slick, they’re also incredibly boring when compared to the intricate inner-workings of their predecessors. A small microchip now does the heavy lifting in modern day calculators. But take apart a 60-year old calculator and you’ll find hundreds of parts that include gears, axels, rods and levers all working together like a fine-oiled machine. Capturing these old gadgets is photographer Kevin Twomey, who “delights in raising the most mundane of objects to an iconic level.”
In his series simply titled “Calculators,” Twomey highlights the glory of antiquated technology by dramatically photographing the insides of old calculators. The project originally came about when Mark Glusker, a mechanical engineer and collector of old calculators, asked Twomey to photograph his collection. “The stripping of the external shell of the calculators was not the original concept for shooting these machines,” Twomey tells us, “but when Mark removed the covers to show the complex internal working of the calculators, I immediately knew that this was the heart of the project.” The two are shopping around for a publisher, as well as an exhibition space. If you’re interested you should get in touch! (Via My Modern Met)
South Korean artist Wang Zi Won constructs intricate mechanical figures of Buddha and bodhisattva that appear to be lost in meditation or enlightenment. The electrically-powered figures are fused with numerous mechanical components which at times resemble halos or lotus flowers and simultaneously move the humanoid figures through repetitive motions (see videos above). The artist says his intention is to examine a future where humans and technology merge, something he views in a particularly positive light. Via Shin Seung-ho of Dukwon Gallery:
The artist predicts that in the future humans will evolve and adapt themselves to enhanced science and technology just as men and animals in the past evolved to adapt themselves to their natural circumstances. He sees this future as our destiny, not as a negative, gloomy dystopia. His work is thus based on neither utopia not dystopia. Wang represents the relations between man, technology and science through the bodies of cyborgs.
The artist considers it important to escape from human bondage in order to achieve harmony between men and machines. He thinks this harmony can be achieved through the process of religious practices and spiritual enlightenment. In Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Compassion helps people attain enlightenment, Arhat is a spiritual practitioner of asceticism, and Buddha is a being who reaches the highest level of enlightenment. Through them, the artist intends to follow the path of enlightenment, breaking away from anxiety, agony, and pain. The artist has no intention to emphasize religious connotations through these Buddhist icons but to reflect his own or our own existence between utopia and dystopia.
While it may be difficult to grapple with the artists intentions I find the figures and their motions to be really quite beautiful and indeed meditative, somewhat reminiscent of the robots used in Chris Cunningham’s amazing All is Full of Love video for Bjork. If you have some patience (the site loads quite slowly) there are many more examples of Wang’s work and several more videos over on his blog and you can learn more at Art Nova and Hanmi Gallery.
The Page Turner is the latest device from New York born, New Zealand raised, and Brooklyn-based kinetic artist Joseph Herscher who builds elaborate Rube Goldberg machines that use complex chain reactions to complete mundane tasks. Some of Herscher’s effects here are subtle in their brilliance. He often creates small loops where his devices refer back to earlier steps, for instance the final state of step 25 is also used again as part of step 30. You can see more videos of his ingenious work here. (via automata, junk culture)
Washington-based painter Tyree Callahan modified a 1937 Underwood Standard typewriter, replacing the letters and keys with color pads and hued labels to create a functional “painting” device called the Chromatic Typewriter. Callahan submitted the beautiful typewriter as part of the 2012 West Prize competition, an annual art prize that’s determined by popular vote. I don’t know how practical painting an image with a color typewriter is, but if Keira Rathbone can do it… (via dark silence in suburbia)
Sound designer and composer Diego Stocco (warning: lots of sound) continues his ongoing project of making music from uncommon objects and places with this new video using loops recorded from a local dry cleaner. Stocco has also made music from a tree, from sand, and even a a bonsai, among others. Of all of them I really think this is his finest. Make sure you make it past the 2:10 mark. (via neatorama)
Over the past several years Oakland-based artist Jesse Houlding has created a variety of incredible kinetic drawing devices using magnets and iron fillings. As a series of magnetic components move in various patterns behind the paper, the iron fillings leave a gradual residue that reveals a visual representation of the magnetic field holding them in place. Houlding says that he is interested in the accumulation of marks, specifically how time is evidenced in artwork and the relationship between process and end-results. You can see a couple more videos of his machines on his Youtube channel. Thanks Jesse for sharing your work with Colossal!