Wednesday, January 09, 2019

'Tipping Point' - Elora Sculpture Project #2

I have been very pleased to have had works chosen for inclusion in the Elora Sculpture Project each year since 2013. This is the second of the two designs submitted for 2019.

'Tipping Point'

From Chaos, through the possibilities of DNA, arises Humanity, the self appointed Pinnacle of Creation. Technology may be seen to lift us ever higher, but beware how a rapid change in Environment can result in a sudden fall.

‘Tipping Point’ consists of three major elements, stacked on a central supporting core. Although fairly simple in line, it will attract attention through motion of each of these elements.

At the bottom is the Chaos of Creation. Here represented by two sets of six, spiral shaped arms, each set curving in opposite directions. Each disk is mounted to a central hub, which allows the disks to both spin under the action of the wind, but also to rotate around the core rod based on wind direction. As the arms are rotating, a complex set of shapes will be generated.

Above Chaos is Order - imposed by DNA. A pair of triangular strips are wound around each other, tapering upwards and inwards. Ideally this element will also rotate under the wind, set to counter direction to the element above.

Humanity and Technology is represented by the topmost set of elements. History has proven that even gradual seeming Environmental Change is often marked by sharp (and often disastrous) ‘failing points’.
Driving force here is supplied by a set of tear drop shaped, dished, paddles. These also move a spiral shaped ‘ramp’ above.
Individual human figures are set on the end of pivoted rods. This mechanism allows each figure to move up and down, as the spiral ramp circles below. Each will rise upwards in turn, only to suddenly fall, as its individual wheel meets the top height of the ramp.
Although simple profile cut outs, the arms and legs of the figures will be set on loose pins. This will allow them to articulate, so to ‘jerk’ as each drops. (A much earlier piece ‘Dancer’ illustrates the general idea)
'the Dancing Boy' - 1982 (!)
'Tipping Point' continues my earlier ‘Windbile’ series, as exampled by the 2016 Barrel Turbine and 2017 ‘Hello / Goodbye. Also my concern with ‘Human Impact on the Environment’ as seen in the 2018 Legacy. (Another approach to this overall theme is my alternate submission this year Last to See.)


The core support is a length of mild steel pipe, with bracing flanges that mate to the standard base.
All the individual pieces are cut from 20 gage stainless steel sheet (and so will effectively resist weathering).  Overall, this is a tall sculpture, intended to be about 2 metres, but in fact will be fairly light weight. For installation, the intent is to have each of the three main visual elements simply drop down on to the core support.
As illustrated, the two lower circular ‘wheels’ consist of pieces that taper to their ends, which are rounded.  If the jury feels these spinning pieces represent a safety problem, they could be enclosed in a circular strip - like a bicycle wheel (rim and spokes) - indicated on the illustration by a dotted line.
The final shapes are only suggestive. I expect some adjustments may be required to ensure the correct wind propulsion as desired. Ideally I would like to have the central helix element free to rotate, but this may take some experimentation to achieve.
The most vague part of this submission is the detail lacking on the exact mechanics of the moving human figures on the top element. Some prototyping is going to be required to get the right configuration to provide the exact action as described (I consider this just ‘fiddly bits).
This sculpture is fully three dimensional in terms of viewing. The motion of the lower element especially will prove quite eye catching. Each of these wheels is 100 cm in diameter, so in action needs to be able to sweep out that space safely. It is suggested that one of the locations set inside flower bed strips would be best. (The often used location at the south end of the bridge might be ideal?)

Of the two submissions, I consider this to be visually the most effective. The range of motion here will certainly prove eye catching. The major fiddle factor is working out exactly how the mechanism at the top is going to be constructed.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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