Friday, 24 August 2012

Caught in the act

I have too many larger sculptures that want to be seen. As I haven't found a gallery, and carrying more than one of them around doesn't work too well, I outsourced some of them. Three of them vanished so far, two of them disintegrated, and four are currently on display in the neighbourhood.

Installing my sculptures in the middle of the night has some trade-offs. One that I really liked vanished in less than 24 hours, without me having any chance to see it hanging in daylight. Another one hangs much closer to the branch its dangling from than I wanted, I couldn't see my progress in lifting it up and so it ended up too high for my liking.

My last attempt to install something on top of one of the wooden posts failed as well, not too mention the bruises I got in the process. As I fail to notice any illegal thing in placing tensegrities in the wild, I simply decided to use a break in rain to do my work.

I wanted to use a tetrahedron made of string within a tensegrity tetrahedron as mount point, which meant 'squaring a triangle. My rough measurements worked out okay, a tighter fit is still possible.

I admit, I used anti-stealth mode. As the winter came back with a cold spell, I wore my space jacket. Lazy as I can be, I rode with my unicycle, carrying a relatively large sculpture in front of me.

At my target, I saw a young woman contemplating on the bench next to the post. I smiled over to her, leaned my unicycle to the post to easily reach the top, and to my pleasure, my idea how to slip the string tetra above the post worked well.

Tet-a-tet a bit closer
I didn't wait for the sun to come back for better shots, did my best to adjust the sculpture as balanced as I could, and happily cycled back. I passed a group of people that had seen me before, one of them asked me: Where's your little thing? I just shrugged my shoulders, with a big smile, and another one commented: "Very Brunswick". Indeed.

I still have to have a second look in sunlight. The visibility seems fine, but the tetrahedral shape has least appeal. A square within a tensegrity square can use the same mounting technique, and might look much more stunning. I still need to make a choice about the strut length, I think 30 cm could be too small for a dramatic effect.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The great outdoors

With the formats and materials I used so far, my sculptures suit indoors much better than outdoors. Yet bamboo and nylon can withstand outdoor conditions, it just needs some more considerations.

I was a bit surprised when I brought a larger structure to the market on a rainy day. It lost considerable amount of tension, and also its delicate balance. Some similar happened when I spray painted a larger structure and left it outdoors for drying, on the next day it had gone into a dangerously floppy state.

My last experiment involved a 4-strut tensegrity, which basically could be balanced upside-down, with one strut fixed into the ground, and three struts floating in tension. The model reaches about 160 cm up, which gives me a bit of leeway for the tension. The first build felt okay, could be handled without disintegrating and lots of movement throughout.

I installed just before a rain storm broke out, with some significant winds. The next day, I found it still in place, yet the top three struts had folded down. The rain must have allowed the strings to stretch more than a healthy amount, although no connection become undone, the overall tension didn't suffice anymore.

With the strings still wet, I simply tuned the model by looping the strings in their grooves, taking care that the overall symmetry wasn't gone. Only 12 strings are needed to keep the 4 struts together, but I wished I had more than two hands while I tried to give it more sturdiness.

I sealed the top of the struts with a glue gun once I was happy with the overall tension, and gave it another go.
New life (in a mist of breath in a cold night)

The Melbourne weather brought a bit of sunshine the next morning, so I could finally hope for a shot in daylight. After straightening the structure in its base a bit, I was quite happy with the result. The visibility isn't too great, but I guess the sun will bleach the struts which currently blend into the background a bit.

I can only hope that the council won't rip it out too soon, it's along my favorite unicycling route so I have a fair chance to keep an eye on it for some longer. It's very accessible, and I rather have it taken by a flooding Merri Creek than over-eager council worker or some destructive neighbours. Time will tell.

New life (in an old Willow tree)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Filling the void

I started experimenting with combining tensegrity structures from the very start of my explorations. Most of the results used models of similar dimension and base geometry and some sort of quick and dirty approach. It took me a while, and some larger sculptures to deviate from this idea, and the initial set of combined structures had a clear defined orientation in space.

The idea of core and shell allowed me to create more complex structures which still can be placed in a variety of orientations. It also taught me experimentally that Buckminster Fuller's idea about the tetrahedron as smallest 'building block' of the universe can be demonstrated with tensegrity models.

Although I haven't attempted yet to exactly model the volumetric relations between the Platonic Solids as described in Synergetics, the 'compatibility' of all these highly symmetric structure becomes very apparent. Tetrahedra fits easily into 6-strut icosahedra, 12 strut cubes and octahedra, and 30 strut dodecahedra. Most likely also in 30 strut icosahedra (the most common tensegrity sphere), I just haven't bothered yet to build one.

Cubic merkaba

Octa Octa

Icosa Icosa