Compound Pendulum

Some years back, I was asked by Mark and his wife Jane to consider building a medium scale work for their house. I agreed to come and look and found an artful pile of BMW rims in the spot where the final sculpture would go. We toured the grounds, making a show of considering other sites, but it was pretty clear where a sculpture was needed.

The process of building the final work, was a lot of fun. Mark is a cardiologist whose mother was deeply involved in modern art in Denver. So he had a good sense of both the artistic process and an appreciation of the technology it takes to make a work like this . We started with a knife edge for the pendulum bearing, but that didn’t work and we moved to a double radial bearing which worked wonderfully and lent the work an amazing motion. This work is an example of a compound pendulum, where a weight above the pivot point less than the main weight acts to make the pendulum’s cycle longer. The closer these weights are to equal (in relation to the distance from the pivot) the longer the cycle is. I would love to explore this on a much larger scale sometime in the future.

The other really interesting thing is that this piece carries with it a certain amount of physical risk. You can build up a tremendous amount of energy in the work and if you stand in the wrong place, it will whop you, hard. Maybe it is due to the level of liability that a cardiologist lives with every day in our amazingly litigious society, but Mark had no problem with that aspect, saying that his girls are all grown up and their house is at the end of a cul-de-sac so no one should be messing with it anyhow. Of course, I am half expecting a phone call from Jane if any grandchildren appear…..

I did not anticipate the work being able to do a full revolution, it was a happy accident that required us rebuilding the base to raise it enough to clear the ground.