ideal summer project: initial ideas

all i knew at the start was that i wanted to make a piece with moving parts. a piece that a viewer could interact with, to alter the finished form of the work.

i was inspired by automata, optical and navigational instruments, and the game of thrones opening credits ūüėÄ this sequence was produced with cgi, but each city was constructed as¬†a working mechanism – in theory at least they could be built.

i investigated a range of mechanisms by constructing paper models from the downloads at robives.com. this helped me understand the translation of rotary movement into other directions, as well as the effect of different gearing ratios. this is a development of my previous use of paper folding and cutting in my work Рalbeit from published designs Рit takes a high degree of accuracy and patience to construct the working models.

clockwise from top left: bevel gears, scotch yoke, gear train, flip-flop.

i was wary that any design incorporating¬†cogs, gears and other mechanisms immediately runs the risk of heading in a too-well-troden¬†steampunk direction. my response¬†is that i’d manufacture the moving parts in laser-cut acrylic and sls nylon print (white, stone-like texture) which would give it a much sleeker, modernist aesthetic, while hopefully still conveying¬†some echo¬†of the scientific instruments that inspired it.

while i knew i wanted an analogue mechanism, what to *do* with that movement took a little longer to crystallise. my first idea was to make some form of drawing machine, the light-bulb moment being joining that with my experiments in using magnified sunlight for mark-making. i decided to make a solar powered analogue laser cutter/etcher.

it turned out¬†i’m not the first person to think this up and i drew influences from markus kayser’s work, in particular his use of a spherical glass lens. this¬†brought me back around to the orreries that amongst other instruments inspired my initial ideas. however i felt that i had the chance to create a machine that was much more elegantly designed than his, that could be a beautiful object in its own right. he also uses motors in his design, i want to rely on purely analogue power, possibly investigating clockwork mechanisms. this idea was also influenced by¬†the ball nogues insta-llator – i just adore this digitally designed and driven analogue machine, more than the installation it was constructed¬†to produce.

it gradually dawned on me¬†that the final machine¬†would have quite significant potential for health&safety hazards to have it working in a public¬†show, not under full supervision,¬†producing as it does¬†controlled combustion. but perhaps the machine didn’t have to be the final piece – perhaps the drawings it produced could be instead. this would change the experience of the viewer – taking the option of configuration out of their hands and putting it instead into the mechanism.

i still have no fixed ideas for the final design/form of the contraption. i want to¬†extend my exploration of geometric design and through the use of mirrors and lenses i hope to produce intriguing work. i would love if i could produce final pieces¬†that have some of the qualities of roger ackling’s sun drawings, which were my initial impetus to pick up a magnifying glass and see how else i could draw¬†with light (photograph).

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