Custom Edition of 3 • Size: 66"h x 70"w x 7"d • Approx. Run Time: 40+ hours
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A fireworks display is full of light, color, patterns and sound. It's the mesmerizing patterns that inspired this piece. I love the way constantly changing patterns appear, fade and interact over time and wanted to build a sculpture that would do the same.
The concept proved challenging but like all fun challenges opened my eyes to new possibilities. I've designed lots of different patterning wheel combinations over the years and I drew on that experience to get started. I sketched up a design with three different size Shimmer wheel pairs and animated them. Interesting, but not what I was looking for. I tried them in matched pairs rather than opposing pairs and got a lot of strobe-like flashing that was hard to look at but reflected some of the flash of fireworks. I redesigned the animation/mechanism to rotate the wheels in the same direction at different rates with just occasional reversals to get a bit of flashing. Much better. But I needed different patterns.
All of my previous optical patterning pieces have used two identical wheels, flipped opposite each other, moving in a variety of ways to create diverse patterns. I've tried using radically different wheels but never found the results pleasing. After much experimentation the light finally dawned - the secret was slightly different wheels moving slowly in the same direction with occasional reverses. You can see something of the design progression as you look in Fireworks from the smallest pair of wheels to the largest. The actual process took months and seemingly countless redesigns.
A mechanical requirement evolved because the wheels had to move slowly so one’s eye could register the shifting patterns. This prompted the second design challenge of creating a mechanism that would rotate the wheels very slowly but not stall. Fortunately I had some good clues of how to do this from my work on the White Water series of sculptures. A side benefit of this relatively slow movement is very long run times. I'm currently seeing run times of at least 30 hours for all the wheels and over 50 hours for the smallest pair. Amazing!
Fireworks possesses a degree of flexibility because the arrangement of the wheels can be varied to meet the requirements of the wall. It can fill either a horizontal or vertical space as well as the squarer orientation shown in the photos.
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Comments via Website:
• "Just when I thought the sculptures couldn't get any more exciting ... you prove they can indeed!". 7/8/11 M- BC Canada
• "Bravo yet again. The sculptures stand on their own + your presentation and the degree of insight you share make for a very gratifying experience". 7/7/11 JB
• "Very interesting job, is an excelent mechanical idea. BRAVO". 7/7/11 FV, Italy