This recent work is inspired by the ironwork of the late 19th century. While we see this still exposed on bridge construction today, ironwork is the skeleton of brick structures over a few stories, and for the most part, remains within the skyscrapers to this day.
I’ve always been fascinated by the cold riveted assemblies of a million parts, that come together to create rugged, stiff, long lasting structures. Assuming they are cared for properly.
In the case of this particular presentation, I’ve finished the surface in iron and applied a chemical to produce the rust patina, then clear coated it to make it touchable. This is how most iron looks exposed to the weather in the Desert Southwest, where trusswork was used heavily in mining operations. Artifacts of this type stand after a hundred years of exposure.
This is the first of the series of lighted objects I have created for offer on the Lumenique site. I will publish each one with a brief on what inspired it.
Most will recognize this from one of my favorite cities on the West coast. As a kid, we visited the 1966 World’s Fairgrounds numerous times. We visited the museums and displays, then played on the grounds. My last visit there was many years ago, on a working tour of projects I was doing as a Lighting Designer in the area.
I have always been attracted to the iron work that was used so heavily in the 19th century. The art of ironwork spanned basic structural engineering approaches, which have elegance founded on their function, and the embellished work, where ornamental design was either added to or integrated into the work. All held together with hot rivets and bolts, thousands of them.
My next object, or two, is going to explore this. Not to duplicate a structure, but to use them as inspiration for new design that is a take on the metalwork age. I also like the irony of using modern 3D modeling and 3D print technology to render work. Many of the same mechanical details that gave the soft metal work its rigidity, will render a plastic object additional strength and character.
After the effort of creating 16 new objects simultaneously, a process I was familiar with from the 52 in 52 exercise, it feels great to have these first pieces done, photographed and finally live. I took this opportunity to explore a wide range of approaches, forms, and general approaches. The intent was to see what felt the most right, and what felt the least right as I actually completed each work piece. I also discovered many areas of improvement I will be making in construction, forms, finishing processes, and ultimately scale and design vocabulary. This infinite and never ending “Work in Process” state of being is what makes this so compelling. I won’t always get it right, but even when I’m wrong, I gain something from it.
Unicycle Two was inspired by the first 3D print object I ever made in 2010 – Unicycle One, which was part of the 52 in 52 project. This first full object project and over 1000 subsequent projects since has been a massive learning experience. The following summarizes the progression that has taken place over these 11 years.
Not knowing the characteristics of the ABS plastic in 2010, I printed the first fixture solid, which consumed 115 cubic inches of material, at a cost of over $600. Ouch! Over the last 11 years, I have learned a lot about how to create objects with 3D printers, which is reflected in the latest iteration of the Unicycle design.
Art is about combining materials and technology in a way that creates objects that reflect a vision or an idea. In some instances, artists find it necessary to innovate their own technology, or to apply one in a way unintended by the originator in order to achieve the end result they desire. Art is about experimentation and tinkering.
In my previous lives, I have done this many times – from using lithography films loaded into a 35mm camera for extremely long exposures for motion capture, to soldering house wiring together with a motorcycle fog lamp to make a sculpture.
Artistic inspiration is generally not bound by the physical reality it springs from. In many cases, it is impossible to create what the imagination or an idea brings forth. Yet, an artist that has become too involved in the workings and machinations of creation, often find themselves lost and frustrated. For these reasons, there is always a level of compromise. Available resources, time, and skill set combine to shape the universe within which an artist creates. Some of these limitations are by choice – as is the case for those who choose only to paint, or sculpt in clay – others are just the limitations of the real world.
Light Source Selection
I have been in lighting for 40 years, from virtually every angle – including design of lighting in spaces, design of products for manufacture, use of light to cure resins or disinfect water, and in artwork. I see light in things, in spaces, and in the world – it’s now just a part of what I see.
This is my very first functional LED task light, completed at the end of 2005. Construction is welded steel. Originally, the main components of this fixture (2004) were designed for a 12V/20W Halogen bi-pin lamp that created an overheating of the lighting head and poor light output. This was changed to (12) 1/2W Nichia HB LEDs (2800k) mounted to PC board with through hole thermal connection to the heat sink, as an experiment and proof of concept for the application of LEDs to provide greater light output for the same or less energy. Light on the task surface was either 70FC or 150FC, with a very wide distribution, as there is no secondary optical control. An aluminum heat sink inside the lighting head maintains reasonable operating conditions for the LEDs (under 60C TJ), while remaining cool to the touch. The horizontal arm ratchets up and down, the red arches are fiberglass springs that tension the ratchet. The parallel link on the head and arm keep the head level when it is adjusted up and down.