Bill Smith discusses his show Magnetically stabilized, air driven, computer interfaced, chaotic emu egg pendulum at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. 2011.x
Bill Smith: Artist Interview
Artist: Bill Smith
Bill Smith’s work embodies both the complexity and range of media and techniques employed by artists now, along with the subtle influence of environment. Living and working in the American Midwest, on the outskirts of St. Louis, Smith is one of the few artists whose education evolved from diesel mechanics to sculpture. The mechanic’s instinctive ability to tinker with machinery and feel for the process of the machine underlie his startlingly complex work.
His Magnetically stabilized, air driven, computer interfaced, chaotic emu egg pendulum (2011) is just that and more. The delicate metal pendulum triggers the display of projected images onto the gallery walls; the pendulum itself is affixed to the top of a floating emu egg. The egg is stabilized by rare earth magnets attached to its bottom, which keep the egg floating tensely upright, pendulum straight up, tightly quivering. And yet the egg is chaotically and progressively destabilized by the slow accumulation of air in a cup-shaped bell underneath it. As the air slowly bubbles up through the water into the cup, its buoyancy overwhelms and destabilizes the magnets’ hold on the egg, and the pendulum rocks crazily around, finally touching one of a number of fine metal receptors, completing a circuit which triggers both the projection of an image on the wall, and a short line segment, the accretion of which shows the artist if there is any directional bias in the pendulum, caused by drafts or other factors. Then the tinkering artist can tinker, and whether by mechanical or digital means, make corrections. The egg, air released, re-centers, and the process starts again.