Friday, April 29, 2011

When's the last time you took one of these?

(I just found this on facebook and I think it's brilliant. There are some ideas I really wish I had had myself.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where wonder came from.

(This is the original drawing I made of Wonder in my sketchbook)

(This is the sculpture in progress in my studio - the white dots are made of computer paper I cut out and taped on so I could move them around and decide how the word should look)

Kinetic art is a very new field for me, and I have actually found the medium to be at once exhilarating and frustrating. Like anything that moves, such as your car, its fabrication requires a lot of precision. I received an immense amount of help with its assembly from a man named Robert Stevens, a colleague of mine at Bowdoin College. Bob is a supremely humble and helpful machinist, and he assisted me with the project's planning and problem solving when I first approached him with my idea. After I had mapped out the coordinates for each motor's location on the 48"x48" panel, Bob used a CNC router to drill mounting holes in those exact positions. He also fabricated many small plastic parts, such as the black arms that are attached to each of the 54 motors. Without Bob's help, I would never have been able to make this sculpture function. Many artists make work alone in their studios. Other artists, like me, sometimes require teams of people with different skill sets to help make their dreams a reality.

(This is how I figured out where the motors needed to be mounted - the different colored construction paper represents the different lengths of the motor shafts)

(This is Robert Stevens showing me how the coordinates I gave him were programmed into the CNC router)

(This is what the back of the board looks like now - a tangle of wires)

In addition to precise fabrication, kinetic art also needs constant maintenance and repair. Since installing this sculpture at the Portland Museum of Art, I have had to replace eight different motors that have broken for one reason or another. It is running so many hours per day, responding with movement to each and every person that walks by. Because of that, I check on the work at least once a week to make sure it is functioning properly. But I often wonder (no pun intended) about its lifespan. I definitely think of it as being alive. But the question is for how long?

(This is me repairing one of those broken motors during the installation)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to discover your life purpose in about 20 minutes.

"Here’s what to do:
  1. Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
  2. Write at the top, “What is my true purpose in life?”
  3. Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
  4. Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose."
(I did not make this up. I found it here. I think it's so ridiculous it's kind of amazing.)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Setting sculpture in motion.

I just found this video that someone took of my sculpture and posted on youtube. The woman gets so close to making the white dots spell 'wonder', but not close enough (literally). It's great to see that people are able to have fun with it either way. I also think this video demonstrates how this work requires the viewer to become a kind of performer. One person has to approach the work while another watches them activate it from afar ('wonder' is seen best from a distance... from up close it's like a pointillist painting). Looking is no longer passive, it is active. It is performative. Slight body movements towards or away from the work cause it to change. It asks you to dance! And it allows others to watch you dance!

And here is another video that shows Wonder in motion very close up. It's a 10 second commercial that the Portland Museum of Art made for TV to advertise the show. Now you can see what the experience would be like from that woman's perspective.

I will be making my own videos of the work later this week, and hopefully writing more about the performance of viewing, so stay tuned...

Everything is keeping time.

How is a work of art altered by our looking at it?

An excerpt from "Art Current: The Portland Museum of Art Biennial" by Brita Konau, published by The Free Press:

"Eggert's interactive piece I at first thought just artfully cute. On a black panel, small levers are set in motion, through proximity sensors, to spell out the title of the piece, "Wonder." Upon further reflection though, I came to appreciate the questions this work asks. How is a work of art altered by our looking at it? How are we changed? Is physical observation replaceable by perusal of reproductions? Can that still instill the same reaction, the same "wonder"? Questions that have not gone away since Walter Benjamin reflected on "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." For me the showstoppers are not the large, site-sensitive installations. Rather, they are the quiet, sophisticated works that ask you to look closely and spend contemplative time with them."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My first podcast!

The Portland Museum of Art recorded and uploaded the artist talk I gave about my sculpture, Wonder (2011), on April 16th. You can listen to it here. (It's just under 7 minutes, so it won't take up too much of your time).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An ominous shadow.

IT'S A PAINTING ON THE GRASS! (By Brigitte Zieger. Check it out.)

My art was on the news!

Watch the clip here.


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Make a gif

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tourists (For Mike), 2011

Made in collaboration with Layla Marcelle Mrozowski, Jamie Carestio and Jacob Raeder.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review of the PMA Biennial

The most recent issue of the Portland Phoenix included a  review of the 2011 Biennial by Annie Larmon and Nicholas Schroeder. My work was discussed briefly on the 4th page:

"I'm applauding Alicia Eggert's kinetic sculpture "Wonder." The hum of electricity and whirling mechanisms really work for me against Wing-Sproul's wash of sound. The piece has an enigmatic quality that, combined with an engaging interactive element, careful execution, and good design, makes for an exciting finale to the show."

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

oh, hello!

Photo by Genevieve Huba.
(And the whale t-shirt I'm wearing is by the talented Mr. Brown!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Wonder" at the Portland Museum of Art

My most recent sculpture, Wonder (2011), is now on display in the 2011 Biennial at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. I am giving an artist talk at the museum this Saturday, April 16th at 2pm. I am also participating in the Meet the Artists: Family Gallery Talk (for kids!) on April 30th at 10am. See below for more information about the show, and for an image of my page in the exhibition catalogue.