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Module 3 or "Mod3"

It's that time again. Time to introduce a new sculpture and ramble a bit about the things I was thinking when I was making the thing. 

I'm calling this work the Module 3 or "Mod3" and it has a mechanic that I think is quite unique, if a little hard to explain. 

This is the third and final installment in my module series, which began as a simple exploration using a magnetic assembly system in place of mechanical fasteners.

This fastening system had a geometric component so I thought it would be interesting to lean into some influences from the math art community as well.

For the first work in the series (NC-3), a simple modular sculpture based around an octahedron form was all I hoped to achieve.

For the second work in the series (TKS) I found myself trying to use some of the inherent magnetism in the assembly to add motion and even more modularity. This work was based around a tetrahedron.

For this third piece, I chose the hexahedron or cube. This shape presented a unique opportunity for magnetic motion.

I came up with an arrangement of magnets that allows a hub on each of the modules to slide linear along its axle when rotated 90 degrees. This motion is achieved by bringing the polarity of internal magnets into alignment in such a way that they alternately repel and attract one another.

The motion is not unlike an electric solenoid, but uses only rare earth magnets.

I had originally planned for something simpler but evolution has a way of adding complexity, so who am I to argue.

I try to touch on the wide range of influences that lead to this piece in the video above. The main one being how Joining each of the three sculptures together helped guide the rest of the process.

below are the magnetic arrangements for joining each of the three sculptures in the module series.

This map shows how each of the modules interacts for basic assembly. As you can see, each configuration required a vastly different approach to spreading out the polarity to get even attraction across all elements.  

In of itself, it is a fascinating puzzle, but that each map also influenced the mechanical and visual outcome of its respective sculpture makes it much more so.

This video is an in depth tear-down of how the mechanic works. It will no doubt do a better job demonstrating the mechanism than anything I could write.

I also show and reference "Polymagnets" which proved to be a fascinating influence on this project as well. There is a video at the link that better explains that technology.

The work you see in these pictures is just the first prototype, it works and looks great. but I do have a bit of work to refine the process for making more of these works. 

Most notable is smoothing out the process for installing all 72 magnets. The press fits and irregular sizing of the magnets themselves had me fiddling with them for far too long. I will no doubt be able to get it ironed out with a few reamers and some 3D printed fixture-ing. 

All part of the fun.

Closing thoughts:

There are lots of things about making sculpture that are difficult to explain. One of them is how different modes of thinking come into play during different stages of creating a work.

When designing purely visual work, the constraints of reconciling one's ideas with a real world medium are challenging enough. Add to that the complexity of introducing mechanical motion or functionality and it is easy to find yourself struggling against competing interests. The demands of "function" do not always play nicely with "form" no matter how the saying goes. 

All of this is simply to say this new kinetic sculpture work was QUITE a challenge. This design brought together many different, and at times competing influences. I have a folder with seventy drawings that are a testament to the many changes this work underwent on its way from digital concept to a real world mechanical object.

I'm not complaining. It is all fun to me. However some sculptures design themselves while others I have to REALLY work for. This design was definitely the latter.

After much toil,  the prototype is done and I am feeling triumphant. I learned a lot and had some interesting breakthroughs 

I will say that the difficult nature of this project has given me a chance to reflect on why I have continued to pursue these small mechanical works and why they resonate so well in the first place.

I have come to see these kinetic works in the context of participatory art. 

Whether it is a performance, an immersive installation or something else, people often want their art (visual or otherwise) to be more than just something to look at.

These small works represent a basic form of participatory art in that they are simply “art that you can hold”. Not a high concept mind you, but most early sculptural forms were in fact decorative tools or adorned utilitarian objects. There is instinct and history in making objects that satisfy this easily overlooked and surprisingly powerful way of experiencing art...... with your fingers!

Notes for collectors: 

So as is customary, I will offer these up as a limited edition. 

But before I get into that, I also wanted to mention this work has a sort of "built in" bonus sculptures.

It turns out that the individual modules for this piece are quite pleasing on their own. They are great fun to hold and operate, The little modules are also fascinating pieces aesthetically. 

I made a small 3D printed stand to help facilitate this little quirk and I feel compelled to consider it a work in its own right. So there will be an option to buy just a single module for those who want to do so.

Seeing as the Mod3 is pretty complex, and that inevitably means it will be pricier than the other two works in the series. It seemed like a good way forward.

 I will of course include a single stand with the larger version as well.

This work will be available in stainless steel ONLY. The list of reasons why is long so I am going to chalk it up to creative license. I feel this work is best represented in this format.

I appreciate the understanding. 

The sign up sale will go live on Thursday July 22nd. (11AM EST) with all of the usual important info included at the sign up link. 

I will post the link on this blog, my email newsletter, and my Instagram account. 

Seeing as it is summer time and many people are traveling or otherwise out of communication, I am going to be more flexible than usual with this sign up. Instead of a hard date for closing the sign up, I am going to leave myself some wiggle room to make sure everyone has had time to receive my communications and can transmit their interest in the work.

And of course, as always, questions and comments are welcome.