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 very own machine. 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. In the #MeToo arena, “balanced” or “open” dialogue with an aim toward healing is difficult to sustain where we are socially and culturally programmed to view legal solutions (e.g., imprisonment) as the most desirable or real form of vindication. 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 online space of DIY hobbyists and entrepreneurs, 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, especially where social media algorithms almost require cyclical appropriation of familiar/instantly legible strategies and symbols for rapid/viral growth.