kinetic

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Art

Illuminated Wire Sculptures Nest Inside Larger Kinetic Works by Artist Spenser Little

August 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Spenser Little, shared with permission

Known for his figurative wire pieces attached to light posts and other public fixtures around the world, Spenser Little’s recent artworks venture into the personal. Illumination Devices is comprised of the artist’s bent portraits and totems of merging faces, in addition to a series of irradiated kinetic sculptures. Evoking the nesting doll, these abstract figures contain spacious chest cavities that open up to reveal similar, smaller forms hidden inside.

For each lamp, Little carves a wooden structure of the main character’s head, welds a metal body, and overlays the components with thin paper “skin,” repeating the process for subsequent pieces. He also seats wooden figures in the deepest caverns. The relationship between the inner and outer sculptures explores the tension between the conscious and subconscious, which the artist explains:

I heard the analogy long ago the we, our active, controlled conscious, are merely riders on a large beast. We think our conscious minds are controlling the subconscious beast, but in reality, the beast goes where it wants revealing our unpolished motives. The outer self wants to project control and precision. The inner self is just trying to keep things working. The lamps are shells around motors.

By physically brightening the artworks, Little uncovers the link between the two sometimes disparate selves. “Art to me is the wordless conversation between us and our inner beast. To communicate with our unenlightened animal impulses is very illuminating to our true selves,” he shares with Colossal.

Little’s nestled sculptures are on view through September 20 at MOAH: CEDAR in California. Take a virtual tour of the show, and check out exactly how the articulate artworks function on the artist’s Instagram. (via Supersonic)

 

 

“Large Orange Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, red heartwood, gears, electric motors, sprockets, bicycle chain link, 40 × 80 × 40 inches

“Inner Defense Mechanism Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, red heart & figurative maple wood, gears, electric motor, carbon-chain link, 30 × 30 × 26 inches

“Identity Roulette, Red Lamp” (2020), steel, paper, glue, purple and red heartwood, electric motor, gears, carbon-chain link, 13 × 28 × 13 inches

“Yellow Glass Urn” (2020), steel, glass, 15 × 13 inches

Left: “Mini Totem Cluster” (2020), one continuous 22 gauge steel wire, 26 × 8 inches. Right: “Birth and Death Deity” (2020), one continuous16 gauge steel wire, 61 × 33

“Copper Multi-Face Design” (2020), one continuous 12 gauge copper wire, 36 × 33 inches

 

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Art

30 Hand-Cranked Machines Comprise Amusing Series of Miniatures by Artist Federico Tobon

June 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Similar to Lalese Stamps’s personal challenge to create 100 ceramic mug handles, a Los Angeles-based artist has crafted an amusing series of hand-cranked automatons in just 30 days. Federico Tobon, of wolfCat Workshop, used popsicle sticks, metal clips, paper, and scrap material for One Month of Small Machines, a four-week-long project that generated different, moveable figures and animals each day. “The A-HA moment from these projects was when I discovered that using paper gives these machines a very organic feel,” he said. “Some of them would look very stiff and mechanical otherwise.”

Since November 2017 when Tobon created these miniature apparatuses, he’s taken on more month-long challenges, which he often shares on Instagram. Check out the full collection on his site or by watching the video below. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Art History

Build Your Own Kinetic Engines With These Mechanical Kits by Morris Models

April 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

For those inclined to tinker, Morris Models offers DIY kits that save an unused blender or noisy washing machine from relentless disassembly. Part historical prototype and part kinetic sculpture, Morris Models’s six laser-cut engines range in complexity and difficulty. For example, the Single Cylinder is a 50-piece, two-hour build that’s comparable to a lawnmower motor, while the WWI Rotary Engine includes 500 parts, can take up to 30 hours to complete, and is inspired by the French Clerget aircraft series that was popular in the early 1900s.

None of the Baltic-birch models are motorized, although the Illinois-based company says most can withstand the power of at least an 18-volt drill. Morris Models recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to upgrade its CNC cut shafting and offer more accurate designs, and you can back the project before April 5. Otherwise, pick up an older kit from its online shop.

“Opposed Aircraft”

“Wankel”

“Single Cylinder”

 

 



Design

A Gear System Helps Visualize the Magnitude of One Googol, or 1 Followed by 100 Zeros

March 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

To celebrate spending one billion seconds on Earth, Daniel de Bruin created a gear system that represents the number googol (that’s the digit 1 with 100 zeros behind it). Every time the first wheel completes 1,000 rotations, which happens in about an hour, the second gear turns 100 notches and the third 10. Each following wheel is reduced by 10, meaning in order to turn the last and 100th one, the system would need a googol of energy, which the Netherlands-based designer says is “a number that’s bigger than the atoms in the known universe.” He tells Colossal that when working perfectly, each gear is perpetually in motion. “Visible to the human eye, I could only see ten gears moving in my lifetime,” he says. For more of de Bruin’s mind-boggling projects—like his totally analog 3D printer and pneumatic pinball machine and can opener—head to his Instagram or YouTube.

 

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Art

Follow Nectar-Hungry Birds as They Soar Through New Automated Flip Books by Juan Fontanive

March 26, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Artist Juan Fontanive (previously) constructs ornithology-oriented flip books which constantly loop with the help of a few hand-built mechanics. The still images are sourced from 18th and 19th-century natural history illustrations, and when combined imitate the motion of a bird in flight. Although these works were completed this year, Fontanive has been working on the series since 2004 while he was studying at the Royal College of Art. Previous animation explorations have featured butterflies and birds drawn with graphite and colored pencil. You can see more of his automated sculptures on his website and Vimeo.

 

 



Art

New Gear-Operated Koi Fish and Shark LEGO Sets Aim to Decrease Stress in Adults

November 29, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

LEGO has been known for their small stackable bricks for over eighty years, as each new generation uses the brightly-colored blocks to build forts, towers, and other imaginative structures big and small. Although adults have also been interested in new sets throughout the years, LEGO is often associated with children’s play. The toy company aims to change this perception with a new line of interactive objects aimed at adults. LEGO FORMA doesn’t contain any bricks, but rather gears, rods, and customizable skins which assemble to create your own moveable koi fish or shark.

By cranking the completed work, the fish has a lifelike movement— swimming through the air as it turns side-to-side on its stand. The completely new format is designed to be a relaxing, creative challenge that satisfy the human desire to build something with our hands. Each piece takes a few hours to assemble in full. LEGO just wrapped up a campaign to judge feedback on the new line on Indiegogo. You can read more about the LEGO FORMA pilot program on their website. (via My Modern Met)