Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hanging around

Guerilla tensegrities have an unpredictable lifespan. Not necessarily by decomposition, that happened only twice as far as I can say, but rather due to their accessibility. If it's easy for me to install them, it's easy for anyone to take them, whether for their own enjoyment or as part of their paid jobs.

I released 13 objects into the wild so far, with only two or three still in place. I still wonder if my motivation reflects more narcissism or exercises in letting go. However, I cannot regret the experiences I made, the bits of adrenaline rush while doing it, and about how to increase the positioning to appeal at least to me when I cruise through the neighbourhood to check whether they're still in place.

The first object I released took the most effort and excitement, and it lasted for nearly a year. A three strut minimal tensegrity made of pencils, attached to a power wire with an elaborate mounting mechanism. It survived many periods of wild weather, and I found it on the ground after the attachment broke, still intact.

Yet I wonder if it was ever noticed, being tiny and in a place the usual gaze would wonder about to find something unexpected. Two objects of similar size in plain eyesight were gone quite fast, and lately I went to much bigger sculptures for outdoor installations - I ran out of space, and I hoped to increase their visibility.

The first sculpture put up in a place for its splendid visibility didn't even last 24 hours, installed in a stealthy night action it was gone before I could take any photo during daylight. Another one, which I placed in the trunk of cut-off tree, survived some flooding from the creek next to it, and I adjusted it several times for maximum viewing pleasure, is gone now as well.

My attempts to attached some medium sized octahedra on top of wooden poles might have gone with the wind - I found one of it next to the pole after a stormy day, yet I'm sure now that the way of attaching them is simply not viable.

One of the objects that is still happily hanging around, provided me a flood of synchronicities. I met someone living just about 50 metres away from where I hung it out, having one of the most amazing sunday afternoons, a day after it got into place.

Initially, it hung much closer to the branch it's suspended from than I intended. I wanted to give it visibility and freedom of movement, and instead pulled it very tightly to the branch. I still have no idea how it lowered itself down, the elements might have helped me in giving it a more prominent position. One day, instead of being snuggly close to the branch, it had at least the little bit of clearance to rotate in the wind, became more visible, and is now affected by the slightest breeze.

It's now about seven weeks that it's hanging around, and I haven't got a name for it. Hold on, I just found one: Louise, please. As it's along one of my favorite bike paths, I will have ample opportunity to check on its longevity.

Louise, please (6 strut icosahedron)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Rainbow Buckyball

After a quite disappointing season on the Rose Street Artists Market, I had a break to reconsider the direction I want to take my tensegrity work to. I want to increase the size of sculptures, but with only limited space available, and no marketing opportunity for bigger things it's not something very feasible at the moment.

So I came up with the idea to make my third buckyball, a truncated icosahedron requiring 90 struts, this time using 6 colours. With the two colours versions I already found out how to structure different colours, and I had at least a plan. There's 12 pentagons in the buckyball shape (which is basically the same layout as a soccer ball), and 20 hexagons. Using six colours means each hexagon can contain all colours.

I thought if I start out with the pentagons, each build in a single colour, it should work out in this way. It still turned out as some tricky puzzle, and the actual build took me as long as the preparation of all the elements.

After building the twelve pentagons, 60 struts were gone, and 5 five struts of each color left. Each hexagon in this tensegrity consists of the struts from a adjacent pentagon, and three that connect to another hexagon. I had to figure out a build algorithm that allowed the hexagons contain all colours, which took me only two attempts.

There are two pentagons of each colour, and as expected, they appear on opposite poles of the finished structure. To my surprise, the remaining five struts of the same colour form an equator, only this configuration warrants that each hexagon contains all colours. This symmetric distribution of colour doesn't continue with the hexagons, all of them seem to have a different variation in the way the colours are arranged.

While I expected to have at least two hexagons in 'rainbow configuration' (yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green), it might not be possible to achieve this, but I really can't be bothered to reassemble this sphere, or to transform this into a mapping problem. The weight means it's best to suspend this sphere, which measures roughly 45 cm from pole to pole with 20cm struts.

Rainbow buckyball (90 struts)