Gear Compositions is a series of 5 self contained, wooden gear systems that are manually operated by individual hand cranks. Users move around the suspended piece choosing to either operate the gear systems from one side or observe them in motion on the other.
This piece is hand made entirely of wood. The gears were designed using SketchUp and Illustrator and laser cut at NYU's Advanced Media Studio.
Simplicity belies complexity. Themes of communication, relationships, role reversals and invisible spaces inform the content of Gear Compositions. Gears are inherently rigid and exact. They shape interiors of mechanisms, assisting the output of energy. The gears in this system take on an organic, poetic, and narrative quality. They operate for no particular purpose, designed for thought rather than goal. Ideas to consider with this piece include: What is the front and what is the back? What does it mean to make things move? What does it mean that the person controlling the operation can not see the output, and the person observing the output can not control the operation (or at least not without some degree of awkwardness)? Does anyone get a perspective of the big picture?
Mechanically, I am very pleased with the user interaction in this piece. I struggled for a long time with whether or not the gears should be human powered, weight powered, or motorized. Although I certainly will address other forms of power in future pieces, it is significant that in this particular piece people must be present in order for it to move. The required interaction of people enhances concepts involving the operations of human relationships -- the speakers and the spoken to, to the active and the passive.
Aesthetically, I would like to dig further into the blocks of wood, dive into that hidden space, creating a gear system that truly belongs inside. There should be sense that the gears were chiseled out, that they are the wood they embody.