The Art of Science: John Grade’s Capacitor

John Grade, Capacitor, 2013

John Grade’s sculpture Capacitor is an immense, immersive piece designed to, as he puts it, “encapsulate the viewer.”  As visitors walk inside the  40- x 20- x 40-foot sculpture, made of fabric stretched over metal frames, it moves, lightens and darkens.  

Capacitor was conceived and built in a mere two months and was exhibited at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2013.

The sculpture responds to information from weather sensors outside the Arts Center, slowly twisting and shifting to changes in wind direction and temperature.  The live weather data are correlated to historic data, so the greater the divergence from historical norms, the more the sculpture moves, and the more dramatic the shifts in light.

Grade says he hopes people come away from the installation “having experienced something about the outside environment in a new way, having experienced it with their bodies.”

You can see more photos and other projects by John Grade on his website.

The Art of Science: Beyond Air Guitar

Simon Blackmore, Weather Guitar, 2006
Simon Blackmore, Weather Guitar, 2006

Air guitar a little low-tech for you? Try Simon Blackmore’s Weather Guitar, a robotically-controlled flamenco guitar that responds to variations in weather conditions. Blackmore says that the electronic guts of the Weather Guitar, currently on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Arts Museum in Connecticut, were designed to be as flexible and open as possible, so it could be shown (and heard) in many different settings.

The Aldrich Museum’s Richard Klein explains: “Blackmore’s work is characterized by an inventive, DIY approach that draws on influences such as hobby-style electronics, open-source software, and lo-fi aesthetics. The resulting “performative” sculpture and installations are not, however, just about revealing the inner workings of things that are usually invisible, but rather an attempt to tackle the more philosophically thorny questions that surround our increasingly complicated relationship with technology and the power it holds over us.”

Blackmore himself describes the goal of the piece as “an attempt to draw parallels between the scientific inquiry of measuring and quantifying the natural elements, and the romantic notion of the weather acting as a source of artistic inspiration.”

You can see Weather Guitar  and two other pieces by Blackmore at the Aldrich Museum through March 9 and see a video of it on Blackmore’s website.

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