Pecker Bird

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

Pecker Bird is a work of kinetic art, number 13 in a series of mechanical sculptures powered by 100 year old windup phonograph motors.

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

Pecker Bird was built in the fall of 2014 and took approximately 6 weeks to complete.

What was your goal in building this project?

To make a self-contained piece of mechanical art that was attractive and decorative when stationary, and that would excite curiosity and amuse when it was cranked up and run. Powered by a 110 year old Edison windup motor, there is no reason why, if treated with respect, this piece cannot bring delight to its owners for generations to come.

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

The general problem is how to make a relatively complex and substantial work of kinetic art that will run within the limits of torque available from a 100 year old spring driven windup phonograph motors. Other than bringing joy to those who play with it, the work has no practical function beyond itself.

What makes your idea unique?

While it is not completely unique to use windup phonograph motors to power kinetic works, they have been rarely used, and when used are hidden away. My sculptures are designed to match and compliment the design and materials of the motors which are completely exposed, and a search of the internet implies this idea is unique...

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

Ball bearings are used to reduce friction and increase reliability. This piece would not run at all until ball bearings were installed at 6 key points. The bearings were ordered on the internet and are 10mm wide with 5mm centers, 4 mm thick. I believe they were originally designed for use in remote control cars.

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

That Limitations actually drive Creativity. Continually hitting the limits of power available I am forced to abandon initial plans and assumptions and surrender to the Mystery for fresh direction. Pieces are not drawn and the built to plan, they stumble and evolve and as an artist I grow.

How will you use the $5,000 prize?

I will buy a Tig welder and more antique windup motors, then make more windup sculptures.

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