3D printing meets that enduring human drive to figure out how something works and finds physical form in Jonathan Brady’s kinetic sculpture, Flat Six. This approximately 5” x 5” x 4” 3D printed sculpture mounted on its wooden base looks like a model for a not-yet-realized monumental piece, something you imagine installed in an urban plaza, reflected in the glass of adjacent buildings and testifying to the modernity and rapid pace of its city, where automobiles whiz by like brethren paying homage to one of their own.
In fact, Brady’s sculpture is more than a nod to the automobile, not unlike his predecessors, the Italian Futurists, who celebrated automation and speed with their own painting and sculpture. Giacomo Balla’s Speed of a Motorcycle from 1913 tries to capture the motion of an engine-powered vehicle, which to him was the quintessence of modernity. Similarly, one of the best known kinetic sculptors of the Modern artistic movement and originator of the mobile, Alexander Calder, began his career as a sculptor creating complex, moving forms in his famous Circus of 1927. No longer was a sculpture a static art form, but instead a complex of moving, constantly changing components that allowed the viewer to also get a sense of how it worked, what “made it go.”
Brady’s Flat Six takes its inspiration from “an air-cooled Porsche engine,” which is no surprise when you see it in motion. When the viewer turns the crank at one end of the sculpture, the engine-cooling fan turns, the crankshaft rotates, pistons are pushed through their barrels. All of the parts are 3D printed by Brady, who refers to himself as a “father, designer, maker, [and] geek.” His expertise as a 3D modeler enabled him to transform his fascination with “all things mechanical” into a piece of interactive kinetic sculpture that needs no embellishment. In fact, its resemblance to the engine components to which it refers makes it all the more compelling for the viewer who needn’t resist discovering firsthand how it works.
Flat Six is printed in gray metal plastic to which Brady added a “metallic sparkle and polished sheen” to resemble the Porsche engine parts he’s referencing. The finished, fully assembled piece is available for purchase for $325 on the artist’s Etsy shop and can be seen on his website, Brady Kinetic Curiosities. If you’re a maker yourself and would prefer to purchase the sculpture and assemble it yourself, the kit is also available on Shapeways for $285.
While you’re on Brady’s website or Shapeways page, be sure to check out other creations, which are delightfully varied. We’re particularly taken with the simple but aesthetically compelling steel bottle openers that resemble tiny railroad truss bridges. We’re looking forward to seeing the next in Brady’s series of kinetic sculptures. Perhaps one work in the series will pay direct homage to its origins as it reveals the inner workings of Brady’s trusty 3D printer. Let us now your thoughts on these sculptures in the 3D Printed Kinetic Sculpture forum thread on 3DPB.com.