Saturday, 26 November 2016

History repeating

It always feels exciting to release some of my pieces into the wild. I never know what will happen, who long it will occupy a location or survive the outdoor conditions, whether I can take a good shot in proper light conditions.

I decided to let go of the tensegrity which served me as display while busking today. It's a four strut tetrahedron made of orange conduit which travelled lots. I build it for easy assembly and disassembly, easy to fold away and needing only one strut to connect with three strings to become whole.

Some of my pieces have travelled more than this one, which I never really bothered to name. I like the bold orange of the material, less so the black print giving away its industrial origin. The white string wears the stains from the different surfaces it encountered during its journeys. The imperfect white and the surplus black print give it honesty and rawness though.

Similar sized structures with thin bamboo tended to collapse in itself, I used the stiff conduit mainly to find out how to build stable minimal tetrahedra. It certainly deserves the status as stepping stone. I dropped it from about 3 metres to test the integrity, and still remember the big smile over the results.

It still offers the spectacle of a decent sized tensegrity, yet I build more aesthetically appealing versions, better suited to showcase smaller tensegrities. One of them now became invisible after sweet peas grew over it, hiding the decay of the wood I didn't anticipate.

Yet my perspective and appreciation of my work differs a lot from those experiencing 3d tensegrities rarely. Without hardly anything to compare it to, the novelty wins out. I learned to appreciate the impermanence of my creations, having kept only a couple of pieces from the early stages. So it felt just right to let go of an object created for its mere function.

I chose a location which has been used for a communal art installation prior, a small patch of land fenced off between an old warehouse, a bike path and an apartment block called 'The commons'. It has small patches of concrete, surrounded by weeds, against the back drop of a mural spelling out 'Ideal Dreams'.

It took me quite a while to get it back together, it must have been a year or so since I last put this one up. The four stick converge in the centre of the tetrahedron, and once the sticks and strings criss-cross each other in the proper way I just need to connect three strings to a single strut. Getting this configuration still resembles a complex 3d puzzle.

While I was figuring out how it all goes together, I heard someone calling out "Hey boy, what are you doing there?" I turned around to three women on a balcony facing the patch I was on. :just building something." I answered. Luckily, I had solved the puzzle and finally the tetrahedron was back in shape.

I offered to take my work back home if they didn't like it, but they took no offence to it. Even more surprising, one of them identified it as tensegrity, so I didn't mind at all being caught in the act of embellishing an unused patch of land in Brunswick with one of my pieces.

I checked the visibility from the bike path, and noticed some old chair spoiling the view a bit. When I moved it away, I spotted some bricks, and decided to prop my structure onto it. Somehow, I screwed up the shot of the final result, yet I'm confident that it will stay there for a while. Call me a bad marketeer for failing the instagrammability, I just enjoyed the process more than documenting the result.

Using bricks as 'corner stones' highlights the delicate balance of the structure, and moving the chair away adds to the idea of a deliberate installation. I use this part of the bike path a lot, so it'll be interesting to find out how it will stay in this location, and how it works visually at different times of day.