mechanical screensavers!

David C. Roy makes wind-up sculptures out of wood that do really cool moiré effects and move in hard-to-predict ways. The gallery has Flash demos of what they look like in motion, and a few Quicktimes. The most surprising thing about these is that they all seem to run for six to twelve hours on a single winding!

Which brings us to Arthur Ganson, who makes somewhat louder, but still slow, sculptures out of motors and gears. Machine with Concrete is one of the cooler ones: the motor turns the first geat at 212 RPM, but after twelve 1/50th gear reductions, the final gear turns one revolution ever two trillion years, at which time it will presumably have shattered the concrete block in which it's embedded. Quicktime here.

That's longer than the Clock of the Long Now, but Machine with Concrete will need two trillion years worth of gasoline...

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13 Responses:

  1. bitwise says:

    Watching the slight strobe effect of the flash animations makes me wonder whether the effect is better under flickery artificial light or natural light. At $1000+ a pop I'm sure I'll never know. Though it would be fun to understand the mechanical tricks that make them work.

  2. harryh says:

    the motor turns the first geat at 212 RPM, but after twelve 1/50th gear reductions, the final gear turns one revolution ever two trillion years

    Somehow I don't think this will actually work. Even the tinyest errors in the gear ratio will have drastic effects on the outcome with that kind of reduction. And won't the first gear wear away from friction in that sort of time period. And of course there is the fuel problem you already mentioned.

    • netik says:

      I think this is why Arthur is part artist and part engineer. I've seen his work at an MIT showing and it's just great what he can do with so little equipment.

      Machine with Concrete is piece of conceptual art (that mostly functions.) It's not so much the fact of "Will it work for that long?", but it serves to provoke thought about machinery and time.

      (okay, I stop now, I'm about to say postmodern and jwz will have to leave the party.)

  3. companyman says:

    Roy's stuff is very cool. I've seen it in person on a couple of occasions now. I don't have the money for art in that range, but there are a lot worse things you could pay that much for in the general world of art.

  4. rpkrajewski says:

    My son and I just went to the MIT Museum on Saturday so we could see Ganson's work, which was featured on an episode of Arthur on PBS.

  5. scosol says:

    Wow, that Roy stuff is *insane*.

  6. greatbiggary says:

    I forgot all about this guy. His "Quest" and "Tranquility" were on the wall in "The Giving Tree" on St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota. Everything in there was on that level of craftsmanship, which might account for the lady who ran the place being such a complete bitch. She hurried everyone out of the store, herded kids into safe areas, insulted everyone. I think the stress of all that expensive stuff on glass shelving was too much for her.

    She absolutely refused to let me get a picture of Roy's sculptures. They fascinated me, running so fluidly, and all day long on a single winding. Every time I happened by the window to sneak a pic, she was there looking at me, in the way. Now she can kiss my ass, because we have Flash.

  7. 1eyedkunt says:

    i particularly like this one. its motion seems, to me, to approximate some kind of particularly poignant dance duet.

  8. harryh says:

    For anyone who cares, there are tools out there like this that will convert flash files into windows screen savers.

    A couple of my friends wanted screen savers of the David C. Roy sculptures.