Kinetic sculpture for a horizontal wall

As my daughter Karen was growing up she declared that when she had a house she was going to have a big wall and I was going to put a big sculpture on it. The years went by, Karen is all grown up now and last December she bought a beautiful condo with her husband Jared. And of course it did have a big, wonderful, empty wall, perfect for a sculpture. Even better, Karen offered to assist me with a redesign of the web site and internet marketing in general, her field of expertise, in exchange for the sculpture

Now the dilemma was, what sculpture. Their favorite piece was one I did a few years ago called Gemini. This is also one of my favorite sculptures but I had a few problems with putting it in this location. First, I had recently mounted it in the perfect spot on a vertical wall in our new sun room and I wanted to keep it there for a while. The other problem was that they had this nice big horizontal wall and as is the case with most of my sculptures, Gemini is a vertical oriented sculpture.

Karen took a photo of the wall and sent it to me with some measurements. I scaled the original Adobe Illustrator drawing of Gemini to fit the wall and brought it into Adobe After Effects to animate. This is the best way I’ve found to get an idea of how a sculpture will look on a wall with everything else that surrounds it.

As I had expected, the animation showed the sculpture just wasn’t a good fit for the wall. Now I got to design something new for a horizontal space. I don’t usually design for a wall, except for the special case of the large vertical wall in our living room I’ve pretty much let my sculptures dictate the form they wanted to take. I liked the challenge of this horizontal space.

I knew Gemini was their favorite piece so I took that as a starting point, using the same bird forms and carriers but making them independent of each other. This would spread the action into the horizontal axis and would create a new interplay between the two halves of the sculpture.

I liked where this was going but now I needed a way to tie the two halves together and a mechanism to keep them going. I sketched out several ideas. This is one.

The mechanism was getting too complicated and I didn’t like the way the drive belts looked. I took a step back and realized that I should be thinking of this as two separate sculptures. Everything fell into place after that. Two mechanisms simplified the operation of the sculpture without changing the motion or the run time. It also made the sculpture more flexible for final installation into the location.

Karen and Jared named the sculpture Merengue. I’ll let Karen explain why.