Long Road Home

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Presented By:
Andrew Smith
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Tell us briefly about your project. Is it a work of art or does it serve another function?

"Long Road Home" was commissioned by "Ripley's Believe it or not" Museums for their Gatlinburg, TN location. It was based off of a previous work, "Long Road Ahead". It is purely a work of Kinetic Mechanical Art.

When did you start working on this project and how long did it take you to complete?

I completed this piece in 2010. I spent roughly 5-6 months, full time, on the project.

What was your goal in building this project?

My goal was to find unique ways of generating realistic human movement in the figure as he rides the bicycle. Almost the entire piece is driven by a single motor. All the movement that is seen can be traced back to that single motor, the only exception is the rotation of the front wheel on the bike, as it is driven by a separate motor.

Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?

Not really. Other than just existing to just exist. Something fun and unique to observe.

What makes your idea unique?

Pulling in scrap metal and parts is always fun in my work. I use the steel shapes and parts more like a sculptor uses clay. To form together to make the shape and form of the figure. Then pulling the kinetic mechanical movement into the piece gives it a whole new life. It is not just "a robot" or some mechanical creation. I like to think of it as the blending of art and science.

In what capacity are you using bearings and what type of bearings?

I used various bearings throughout this piece. Primarily, mounted (pillow block, flange mounts, etc) These were used to create visual movement through belts, pulleys, and etc. to gear the speed of the rotation down, and gain power in that process. Thrust bearings were used to support the weight of the figure on the bike, with the torso mounted, above that, on a universal joint. These work in unison with the various, springs, rods and etc. to pull realistic human movement out of the simple rotation of a motor.

What is the most important thing you want people to know about your project?

The one thing I have discovered in my work is that it begins to bridge the gap between the general public and modern art. This piece falls right into that space, people that normally wouldn't stop to look at a bunch of "junk" welded together, stop, and watch. The kinetic movements, draw the viewer in, wondering how it works. Hopefully, this sparks their curiosity, helping people stop and spend a little more time looking at the world around them in a different way. If it doesn't, then at least it was a ton of fun to build, which is what it really is all about in the first place. Having Fun.

How will you use the $5,000 prize?

I would put it right back into my artwork. Each project uses it's own budget to move forward and I work to balance, time, parts, and then profit. After all, I need to make a living. So the $10,000 would most likely be put straight back into the business, either in funding new works, or most likely taking advantage of the financial boost to push additional marketing and other aspects that tend to get ignored when it comes down to just getting the project done.

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