My favorite sculptures are the ones that frustrate and challenge me. Quandary has that quality. I've lived with this piece for a long time.
I arrived at the patterning concept fairly early in the design process. I started with the idea of 4 overlapping satellite wheels composed primarily of nearly straight lines I added the circles for balance and I was pleased with the result.
Finding the right mechanism to move the patterning mechanism proved to be much more of a challenge.
The first mechanism I played with was a version of the 2 arm mechanism I've used in sculptures like the Variation series. I never built the mechanism. I didn't like how it looked with the patterning assembly.
I liked the symmetry of the next mechanism. It was based on an old mechanism design I hadn't used in years and thought deserved some new attention. I built this mechanism and it worked pretty much as shown in the animation. There were a few problems. Visually it was too big and complex for the patterning portion of the sculpture. All the complexity also reduced the run time to far less than I had expected. It was also difficult to set up and string.
I didn't give up easily. I set the sculpture up in our home and over a period of many months I tweaked the mechanism design and started playing with the patterning design. I found that by rearranging the satellite wheels I could create different patterns. This drew me on. I tried a number of different arrangements both in animations and on the model itself but in the end I just wasn't happy with the sculpture. I could see something was there but I couldn't find it.
I finally decided to junk the complex mechanism and all the patterning variations and try something very simple. I call the mechanism concept my "fall back" mechanism because it relies on the fact that an off balance wheel will fall back and swing like a pendulum when it looses momentum. I've used this concept in pieces as varied as Matrix, Harmony and Sun Dance.
I had doubts that the mechanism would work with this fairly heavy patterning assembly but there was only one way to find out. In fact it didn't work when I first tried it. I had to play with the balance and add some swing to the satellite wheels to keep it from stalling but with this simplification the sculpture came together. The subtle swinging motion added interest to the pattern as did the irregular start and stop of the motion assembly. The smaller mechanism brought focus back to the patterning part of the sculpture. To top it all off it ran for more than 10 hours and was simple to set up!
I learned a lot in designing Quandary that I will apply to future sculptures. Both of the initial mechanisms still intrigue me and there is a lot more exploring to be done with angle and arrangement of satellite patterning wheels in designs with 3, 4 and 6 satellites. I have no idea where it will lead me but I'm looking forward to finding out!