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Leonardo,Vol.2, pp. 403-406. PergamonPress 1969. Printed in Great Britain ELECTRONICALLY OPERATED AUDIO-KINETIC SCULPTURES, 1968 Juan Downey* If the choiceweregivento me, I would pick complete inaction for my entire life. Nevertheless, I persist in the activity of building electronic sculptures because: Their existence or destruction is irrelevant to the life in them. They cause people to play. They make people aware of the vast number of different kinds of energy in the universe. They are ephemeral. This is part of a new development in the history of art: to create works of art that are not supposed to last for a long time. They pose a problem for the collectors of art objects. They create the illusion that the public can participate in the work of art. Actually, we are still spectators mystified by the order that makes the world grow and move, although, we pretend that *Artistlivingat 1200East Capitol Street,N.E.Washington, we are determining what happens to us. It is fun to talk with friends about them. D.C. 20002, U.S.A. (Received 17 April 1969.) Fig. 1. View of 1969 exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. Foreground piece: 'Radioactivated Chair', kinetic sculpture activated by radiationfrom radioactive material or cosmic rays; plywood, Formica and electronic parts, 1968. Centerpiece: 'Invisible Energy', audio-kinetic sculpture activated by radio waves; plywood, Formica and electronic parts, 1968. Background piece: ' A Machine with Three Conditions', audio-kinetic sculpture; plywood, Formica and electronicparts, 1968. AIl made in collaboration with Fred Pitts. (Photo: Shunk-Kender,New York.) 403 404 Fig. 2. ‘Against Shadows’, kinetic sculpture actiiiated by shadows: plywood, Formica atid electronic Darts. 1963. Made in collahoratioti with Fred Pitts. (Photo: Shunk-Kender, New . I York.) They imitate aspects of movement in life. Art is more concerned with thinking about what people experience than with proThey make people aware of the lively relations between different kinds of things. Children like them. Sometimes they produce a reversal of natural phenomena, for example, as demonstrated by the sculpture ‘Against Shadows’, described below. ducing objects. 2. 1 made the following electronically operated engineer, Fred Pitts, except for ‘The White Box’, which I designed alone. He not only contributed his technical knowledge but also worked with me for long hours during which we conversed and drank together. He was, therefore, apartner in the creation of the sculptures. sculptures during 1968 in collaboration with the 3. 1. ‘RadioactivatedChair’ Contains a Geiger counter. When it receives radiation from radioactive materials or cosmic rays, the stool, on which one may sit, vibrates (cf. Fig. 1, foreground piece). ‘InilisibleEnergy’ Is sensitive to two different frequencies of radio waves. When either of the two receivers is activated, they operate two separate sets of electro-magnets that cause the side forms to rock back and forth. Since the tops of these forms carry mirrors, they reflect moving squares of light on the ceiling (cf. Fig. I , center piece). ‘ A Machine with Three Conditions’ A sculpture that demands certain conditions from the surroundings before it is activated. The machine, somewhat like the brain, selects and receives an input, adds it up and then produces an output. Condition I-If touched, the machine repeats over and over: ‘somebody is touching me’. Notes: Electronically Operated Audio-kinetic Sculptures, 1968 405 Fig. 3. ‘The WhiteBox’, audio-kineticsculpture containingpolarizingprojector and electronic musical instrument, both activated by photocells and sound-operatedswitch: plywood, Formica and electronicparts, 1968. (Photo: Shunk-Kender,New York.) Condition 2-If the room becomes dark enough, the machine repeats over and over: ‘the room is dark enough’. will be played back later. Music will also be created when a group of persons hold hands and the person on each end ofthe chain touches oneof the two plates. Condition 3-If the machine receives 6. ‘The White Box’ radio waves of a certain frequency, they will be heard. When all three conditions are met simultaneously , the sculpture produces light and sound (cf. Fig. 1, background piece). 4. ‘Against Shadows’ Photocells are located in the small screen box on the floor. When a person casts a shadow on this screen, the photocells activate corresponding lamps on the larger...


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