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DIY Political Machines: Circular to Linear Motion (2020)


Sculptures: 18" x 16" x 12" (2), 24" x 16" x 12" (1). Wood, acrylic, glue, rice, toothpicks, metal hardware (screws, washers, nuts), tape, paint, felt, Arduinos, breadboards, gearbox motors, jumper wires, switches, knobs, power cables


Digital video: 5:11 minutes (music: John Zorn)

Drawing: 18" x 24"

Detail views (click to enlarge):

With the technical sketch, you can make your own machine -- "empower" and edu-tain yourself.

Three kinetic sculptures explore relationships between circular and linear motion, and how personal agency or positionality intersects with these linked mechanics. Circularity can entail encircling (encompassing) or constraining, cycling or repetition, illogical or unsound reasoning, futility (“spinning wheels”), or regeneration. Linearity can entail unidirectionality, horizontality or verticality, forward or backward movement, continuous or discrete spectra, binary categories, or polarization.

I am particularly interested in how larger systemic frameworks, such as legal systems, science and capitalism, define and constrain mobility or possibilities within subordinate systems. For example, within a system where justice entails imprisoning the guilty, does achieving justice yield linear progress, or eventual injustice through a circular logic of violence? In climate change and vaccination debates, ultimate appeals on “both sides” are to “science,” but “science” has many guises and limitations and statistics are abundant and contradictory.

In the DIY space, many championing a break from corporate domination/enslavement reach ultimate success by licensing or selling their property to a larger company; i.e., the machine of capitalism produces the desire to escape it, and pursuit of this desire tends to reinscribe one within it. Desire and agency in the context of struggle (for liberation or legibility of various kinds) more generally can be viewed as relationships between circularity and linearity.

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