Archive for May 8th, 2011

“Sisyphus” Bruce Shapiro

I stumbled across the video below quite by accident and at first simply wrote it off as some computer generated animation.  But I did a quick search on the man behind it, Bruce Shapiro, and found that it was genuine– real sand with a real steel ball rolling through it to create intricate patterns.  You see, Bruce Shapiro plies his craft in the art of motion control.  That is to say that he blends the scientific and industrial aspects of technology to create something beautiful, something artistic.

His sand installations are large tables filled with sand that move ever so slightly, guided by a computer program, so that the steel ball moves a wee bit at a time, leaving a ridge in the sand that creates the visible pattern.  His permanent installations do so endlessly, one pattern beginning atop the last finished pattern.  Hence, the name he has given them,  Sisyphus, after the mythic king who was punished by the gods for his deceitful ways by being forced to push a boulder up a hill each day for eternity, nearly making it to the top each time only to have it roll back to the bottom.  An endless labor.
There are two videos below, one showing a pattern in the making and the other showing Shapiro explaining the background of his work.  You can get more info at his site.

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