Each of the five oak machines in Loop System Quintet – connected by a single drive-shaft - draws a different ‘knot’ of light in space, predetermined by the ratio of the cogs that drive it. These ratios are directly related to formal theories of musical harmony (Harmonics). The resulting light patterns, perceived by the viewer only as the machines rotate, can therefore be regarded as visual transcriptions of musical chords. Each machine has no further purpose. The artist has said:
“It is all folly, and with no use or product, as a machine, it is tragic”.
The circles of energy produced by the lights also relate to string theory, a complex scientific theory stating that matter is comprised of vibrating ‘strings’ of energy rather than single, isolated particles.
Conrad Shawcross, Space Trumpet, 2005
Space Trumpet was inspired by a trip the artist made to Holmdel, New Jersey, to find the Bell communications antenna. In 1965, this primitive radio telescope had inadvertently picked up microwaves: these were the residue of radiation created by the birth of the universe billions of years earlier. This startling discovery validated the ‘big bang’ theory. The exhibition takes its title from the rival ‘steady-states hypothesis’ that this breakthrough undermined.
Conrad Shawcross, Harmonic tower, 2005
Harmonic Tower is a massive version of a Harmonograph. This popular Victorian device created small, mathematically patterned drawings (similar to those made by a modern spirograph) by means of pendulums.
In Conrad's version, there is an added dimension of time, as rather than remaining still, the paper - located at the top of the tower - is drawn through the machine as the pendulums swing. The large-scale drawings produced by his device offer a visual interpretation of musical harmony, using a combination of rhythms and mathematical methods in their creation.
Although the device is displayed in its stationary state, the drawings around the walls were created here, by the artist, once the Harmonic Tower had been installed.
Conrad Shawcross, Loop System - Major Third 5:4, Four Part Counterpart, 2005
Hybridation art et science très captivant!
Art and science hybridization very captivating!
Sources: Walker Art Gallery, Vvork, Fffound