MISSION STATEMENT I am seeking an organization or individual to commission the creation of a large mechanical puzzle / kinetic sculpture. I envision the sculpture in a company lobby or in a public space, such as an airport, hospital, or museum. At the bottom of this page is an itemized request for funding.
SUMMARY In form, the sculpture will be similar to kinetic sculptures found in airport terminals, museums, corporate lobbies, and private collections. However, it will also be a challenging puzzle, making it entirely unique. I created a prototype that has been installed at DEKA Research & Development Corporation in New Hampshire, the Providence Children's Museum, the Brown University Hillel House, and ESI Design in New York City. Every installation draws a crowd of enthusiastic observers and participants, proving that the concept works. The sculpture generates a remarkable dynamic among onlookers. They interact first with the machine, but then with each other. They ally against the puzzle - exchanging ideas, sharing discoveries, celebrating successes, laughing off failures, and offering tips to newcomers. They enjoy a unique atmosphere. Art experienced collectively. Funding will allow me to build a finished sculpture with a robust yet elegant body of welded steel, suitable for permanent installation.
DETAIL When I was in kindergarten I saw my first George Rhoads sculpture: a glass case the size of a small room housing a labyrinth of metal tracks and rolling balls. As they make their way from top to bottom, the balls give life to the sculpture - setting hinged parts in motion, banging into chimes and rolling over xylophones, bouncing off trampolines and spiraling down giant funnels. The action is perpetuated by an elevator, which continuously returns balls to the top. These sculptures are accessible and captivating. Adults and children study them and smile - elaborate machines that do so much, yet nothing at all. Years later, I began to fantasize about creating a similar sculpture. But I wanted to offer more than a visual experience. I imagined an audience interacting with my machine - controlling the kinetics with cranks and levers. Anyone interested in a challenge would find a complex puzzle amid the web of tracks. After three semesters at Brown University, I left school and created a prototype. Since then, it has been installed at DEKA Research & Development Corporation in New Hampshire, the Providence Children's Museum, the Brown University Hillel House, and ESI Design in New York City. At each site the machine was in constant use. Strangers became a team, working together to solve the puzzle. Others did not seek the solution, but were intrigued by the mechanics and delighted in controlling the bizarre contraption. I am now seeking funding to create a finished work. This sculpture will be modeled after the prototype in concept, but much larger, with a robust body of welded steel suitable for permanent installation. The use of steel will allow for a slender frame and elegant design. Welded joints and industrial mechanics will replace hot glue and legos, while the incorporation of scrap-yard parts and everyday objects will preserve a homegrown feel.
PUZZLE The puzzle sets my prototype apart from other kinetic sculptures. It consists of three pinballs, a web of tracks, and a set of user controls. The puzzle is solved when three slots at the bottom each contain one pinball. User Controls: My prototype is controlled by a crank, a switch, two knobs, and one lever. The crank operates an elevator that brings pinballs to the top of the puzzle. From there, the switch is used to select among three tracks. At various points within the puzzle, pinballs are blocked by gates. These gates can be lifted by the knobs and lever. Solving the Puzzle: Every element of the puzzle is integral to the solution. Users must understand each part to solve the whole. While resting at a gate, a pinball may hold down a switch that exposes a new path. The timing of one pinball's descent may affect the trajectory of another. Solution time varies from 45 minutes to hours.