Arthur Ganson is a modern sculptor working in the medium of machines, or “kinetic sculpture.” His work, which is currently being exhibited at MIT, is constituted by all kinds of obscure and archaic-seeming mechanical parts frequently augmented using everyday household items: an artichoke petal, a Chinese fan, cans, a violin, a wishbone, cat whiskers, and even an eerie abandoned doll. His sculpture, “Machine with 23 Scraps of Paper,” has paper ripped to emulate flying birds atop an intricate set of gears at the machine’s base. These gears churn slowly, moving attached rods up and down, which moves the paper scraps in an easy, meditative manner. I think of seagulls in flight over softly moving waves.
Salt Lake City, Utah-based Engineer “J Pod” has gone ahead and 3D printed his own “Machine with 14 Scraps of PLA.” J Pod’s nod to Ganson’s work here is a gentle reminder that the 3D printer is quickly becoming the new machine, and modern industrial machinery is further rendered archaic as the gears have been shifted from industrial automation to digital fabrication.
As you can see from the above photo, if birds in flight, or a flock of seagulls, is not Ganson’s intended effect, I am not sure what is. J Pod did something quite similar with his 3D printed sculpture. He created a similar base, using all 3D printed components, except for his bird shaft supports, which used aluminum and brass tubing and music wires for the wings. He used one common 30 RPM 6V motor for each row of birds, and the power supply is a 5V 1Amp supply. Everything else is 3D printed.
J Pod explains:
“The design is modular in that each individual bird, bird support, and base piece can be clipped together to form chains, or side-by-side configurations. Each row of birds has it’s own motor and cams driven by a hex shaft. Remove-able clips connect each modular section, so they can be serviced if needed. For now the birds are glued to the support shaft, a future revision might see these removable as well.”
The nuts and bolts instructions for making this sculpture is one thing, but the effect is a whole other kind of poetry. In fact, a flock of birds may be the best analogy for how the parts of a machine work together. When you view birds in flight together, you see how each bird is at a different height, and maybe flies at a slightly different speed. But when viewed as a whole, the individual characteristics and positioning of each bird make up the flock. Everything is coordinated for moving the whole group along. This is what is so insightful and moving about Ganson’s original sculpture, and J Pod’s own unique 3D printed spin on it. Imagine a room filled with these sculptures, and how much they would calm their viewers!
So far, J Pod’s sculpture has its own group of viewers, with 893 views of his sculpture and 151 downloads. But this work of art deserves much more attention. When birds are in flight, they appear to not have a care in the world, but one has to wonder if they secretly want us to give them our full attention. We should be giving 3D printed sculpture like this, and its original inspiration from artists like Ganson, much more attention! You can see “Machine with 14 Scraps of PLA” in flight below. Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Sculptures Forum on 3DPB.com