In the last few years, artists have started to use affordable microprocessors and open source software to create kinetic sculpture. Data Sweep, a new exhibit at Esther Klein Gallery at Breadboard, explores this intersection of art, science and technology.
Artist David Bowen learned that the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration stations thousands of buoys in waters around the world. Each buoy transmits a live online feed of information, like wave length, height, wind speed. This information is useful for tracking climate change, shipping conditions and tsunamis. But Bowen used this data to create a sculpture. “I wanted to sort of recreate the physical effects of the water,” he says.
Bowen chose one remote buoy in Alaska’s waters. The measurements are transmitted to a microprocessor, which controls a series of robotic arms. The arms are connected to strings, and the strings are connected to a flexible grid. As the arms move up and down, the grid undulates, like a marionette. It mirrors the shape of a wave almost 4,000 miles away. “As a painter uses painted or a stone carver uses marble, I look at the technology as another material that I have access to create my pieces,” Bowen says.
Data Sweep runs through March 20th.