September 30, 2023


How Art Works

My Sculpture Weblog: The TKS Modular Sculpture.

5 min read

Introducing the TKS, The second in a collection of magnetically modular mini sculptures. Everybody is aware of I like iterating round an concept and my final small magnetic work was ripe to broaden upon. 

The primary of the collection was the NC3. When engaged on that piece I wrote in regards to the novelty (and perils) of utilizing magnets. I stated that I’m cautious when utilizing supplies which are inherently novel as a result of novelty itself can develop into the dominant medium, one with a brief shelf-life. 

Whereas I’m at all times cautious about how I make use of mechanics to make sure I’m pursuing sculptural ends, it’s simple to develop into dogmatic to ones detriment, and it happens to me that in an effort to actually perceive one thing (like novelty) it helps to lean into it every now and then. 

So with that stated let’s dive into what’s behind this new piece. 

Along with magnets, I’ve added some ball-bearings to the configuration, as a result of if I’m going to discover mechanical novelty, effectively, it must have layers. 

This leads to a magnetically modular piece that not solely spins, but additionally has a exceptional tactile feeling when rolled round within the hand. This piece is as a lot a pleasure to carry as it’s to have a look at. 

There may be extra to why I discover this work so fascinating, so lets maintain going.

One other matter that arose whereas engaged on the NC-3, the work that preceded this, is that it was based mostly on well-defined geometric rules. The NC-3 was constructed round a platonic stable known as a octahedron. This new work is constructed on one other platonic stable, the tetrahedron. 

Whereas training machine work requires good working information of assorted geometric principals, I’ve by no means actually thought of what I do to be “math artwork”. In the event you dig round a bit, you can find that math artwork is kind of its personal factor (see my sculptor pal George Hart). Math artwork shouldn’t be actually one thing I can lay any actual declare to (for lack of true mastery) however my work usually overlaps with it on the edges and this can be a case the place I wished to push into that sphere, if just a bit. And so I fairly deliberately adopted the tetrahedral format as my start line moderately than simply being a handy coincidence. 

The body work for your complete piece was constructed round one thing known as the “dihedral angle” which is the angle between the faces of a given form. The dihedral angle of a tetrahedron is 70.529° and it is a crucial angle as a result of it’s used to make sure the entire magnets sit nose to nose when assembled.

The remainder of the visible kind was derived from utilizing that angle as a constraint. 

Along with fundamental geometry, this work had various extra technical engineering challenges that proved a terrific alternative to use some fascinating physics rules.

For starters, not like a octahedron, mating the elements of a tetrahedron with magnets doesn’t current an easy answer when it comes to arranging the polarity throughout them. Getting 4 particular person items to draw the opposite three meant that I couldn’t merely apply a single polarity (north, or south) to every half evenly. As an alternative I ended up with a polarity map just like the one you see above.

The result’s that whereas the NC-3 was totally rearrangeable, this work actually solely assembles one or two methods.

Getting the magnetic meeting solved was just the start nonetheless. Making the remainder of the mechanics play properly meant discovering a candy spot between the mass of the elements and the magnetic forces employed to carry them collectively.

My first prototype for this sculpture had two fundamental points. The mass of the chrome steel spinning parts was a bit on the heavy facet, and the magnetic pull holding them collectively was a bit on the weak facet. This meant that the centrifugal power of spinning the sculpture was susceptible to sending these stainless parts flying off.

To make the elements lighter with out wildly altering the piece, I utilized what is named the square cube law, which states that an object’s quantity will increase (or decreases) at a better charge than its floor space when being scaled. 

A easy instance is {that a} 1″ dice has a floor space of six sq. inches and a quantity of 1 cubic inch. In the event you double its measurement to a 2″ dice, the floor space will increase to twenty-four sq. inches (an element of 4 or 22).  Nevertheless the quantity of that very same dice will increase to eight cubic inches, (an element of 8 or 23)

Virtually utilized, by lowering the general measurement of the elements by a mere 3%, I used to be capable of make your complete work a full 10% lighter (I additionally fiddled with some inner dimensions to squeeze that additional 1%).

To extend the magnetic attraction between the elements, I needed to transfer the magnets nearer to their goal. How a lot nearer would make a distinction? It seems a really small quantity, and the inverse square law is easy methods to clarify this. 

The power of attraction between two magnetic poles is inversely proportional to the sq. of the space between them. On this occasion I used to be fixing for magnet to metal, however the principal is identical.

After crunching the numbers, I calculated that I might improve the magnetic power by an element of two.6 just by shifting the magnets a mere .016” nearer to the elements I wished to stay. 

This small design change was trickier than it appears, however it made an infinite distinction. Now the elements all connect fairly securely.

That is all fairly fundamental stuff to an engineer, however I nonetheless discover it immensely satisfying to have the ability to floor parts of my work in some actual nuts-and-bolts logic. Within the video above I talk about all of this a bit extra casually.  A video is price one million phrases nonetheless, so hopefully it helps clean out all of the “umms” and “ahhhs”that come out of my mouth.

One other enjoyable factor is that since these items include magnets they kind of speak to one another when moved in proximity. 

I’m happy with what number of pursuits of mine I used to be capable of wrap into this little work. I hope it helps show how pursuing machine-work as a visible medium consistently brings one into contact with different spheres of data. 

I’ve by no means needed to look far to discover a catalyst for a visible idea and this piece embodies this concept properly. Who is aware of, possibly it will find yourself being a 3 piece set. 

Simulated shade pallet for the version

In order is customary, I’m going to supply these up as an version. 

I’m including pink and yellow to my anodizing line so there will probably be heaps to select from when it comes to colours. 

 I’ll publish a sign-up beginning Friday April sixteenth at 10 AM EST. I’ll embrace particulars of the sale in addition to the value at the moment.

As at all times, feedback and questions are welcome.

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