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Leonardo, Vol. 1I, pp. 219-220. 0Pergamon Press Ltd. 1978. Printed in Great Britain. OO2W4X/78/0701-02 I9SOZ.O0/0 KINETIC ART: PRODUCING ‘FLOATING OBJECTS’ BY MEANS OF THE KALEIDO-SCULPTURE DEVICE James F. Watkins* I shall describe a device of my design that I showed in the exhibition ‘ToysDesigned by Artists’ that was held from 19 Nov. 1976 to 2 Jan. 1977 at Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A. Unlike kaleidoscopes of various kinds, some of which aredesignedto give kinetic images,my device,which I call a kaleido-sculpture, produces the illusion of ‘floating objects’in space.The 3-dimensionalsymmetrical‘floating object’ may be viewed in motion while it changes in form continuously. Forms open and close around a central part, suggestinga flower opening and closing as seen in a time-lapse film (Fig. 1, cf. color plate). The ‘floating object’ is produced by means of two facing square mirrors (31 x 31 cm) thatjoin at the rear at an angle of 30”.The grooves in the bottom of the wooden cabinet into which the mirrors fit are shown in Fig. 2. The interior of the cabinet is covered with black velvet. Viewers look through a viewing port toward the rear of the V-shaped chamber (Figs. 3 and 4). The ‘floating object’ is produced by six moveable elementsconsisting of pieces of sheer fabric. The fabric is available in several colors that are fluorescent in varying degrees. Lighter colors can be dyed and then decorated with dots, stripes, etc. of various colors using fluorescent felt pens or markers. Elements can be cut from a single piece of fabric or made by combining two or more pieces of different colors. I have found the most effectiveshapes are ovals, rounded trianglesand scallops.A piece offluffy blue fabric iscemented along the rear edgesof the mirrors where they meet in order to hide thejunction. It provides a vertical stem that tends to strengthen the symmetrical appearance of the ‘floating object’. A blacklight tube of 12watts, hidden from view at the top of the cabinet, illuminates the fabric elements. The remainder of the interior of the cabinet is in darkness. The mirrors are not visible to viewers and there are no other visual clues from the surroundings of the ‘floating objects’. I have been assured by a qualified person that the ultraviolet rays from the tube present no danger to viewers. The rays do not reach the eyes directly. The light enters the viewing chamber through five slits of 3 cm width and the viewing window is provided with 3 mm plate glass. The fabric elements are held in place and moved about on the surfaceof the mirrors by means of magnets. Behind each mirror is a felt-covered rotatable wooden disc(17cm diam.) in which there are three recesses containing fixed *Artistand teacher, Dept. of Art, Memphis State University, Memphis, TN 38152, U.S.A. (Received27 Oct. 1977) permanent magnets (Fig. 2). Near the middle of each fabric element a concealed small permanent magnet is sewn, and each element possesses a thin felt pad, permitting it to glide smoothly on the mirror’s surface as the permanent magnet on the disc rotates. The two feltcovereddiscsare rotated by a belt and pulley arrangement f Fig. 2. Interior design o f the kaleido-sculpture device. Fig. 3. Exterior design o f the kaleido-sculpture device, exterior dimensions 37 x 27 x 40 cm. 219 220 Jutncs F. Wutkiris Fig. 4. V i c w r operating thc kalcido-sculpture, dc.vic~c,. (Photo: Rebecca Garland. Memphis, Tennessee). by means of hand cranks, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4. The pulley ratio is 8 to I. so that the rotation of the discs is slow, even when the cranks are turned rapidly. One of the belts is crossed, so that when the cranks are rotated in the same direction the discs rotate in opposite directions. The discs could be driven by an electric motor, since electricity is available for the blacklight tube, but I find hand cranking more satisfactory. since viewers can then simply choose speeds and direction of rotation of the discs and stop one or both of them at will. When the...


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