I’ve been stalling with my Automata artworks lately. It’s not that I’ve been lazy, but I’ve been allowing myself to be distracted to avoid having to make difficult decisions about the art I’m making. It’s never great when things aren’t going well, but usually momentum and willpower keep everything ticking along so that design compromises can be classed as comfortable changes in direction rather than major stumbling blocks.
Finally I feel ready to release Divided to the world. This machine has been a long time coming due to technical issues. The two pieces move vertically as well as rotationally as the handle turns. I deliberately set myself up for a complication with asynchronous gearing*. If I’d just stuck to them both bobbing down and round and round on the same gear ratios then I could factor in exactly what would happen where. The chaos of the gearing gives the frustration but it also brings delight now I’ve finally got it right.
The problem has been getting the two doll halves to clash just enough to make things interesting on their way round. This is precision stuff. The arm stumps have to be correct to within a millimetre else they just halt the motion of the whole machine. Noses have to retain their original dimensions and brush delicately as they go round. The central axis between has to be crossed by one doll half in a rotational and vertical synchronicity with the other half. Verticality has to be maintained at all times so that a graceful lean outwards during one half turn doesn’t become a compromising clash inwards during the second half of the turn. Too much in the way of collision and the rotation does not happen at all. Too little and it’s boring. Getting is spot on has driven me mad for so long that I’ve been avoiding it far more than I should.
Factor in the aesthetics and it’s no wonder it’s taken me so long to get this to what I feel is a good enough standard for release. The whole thing has to look smooth and delicate as well as being hard wearing enough to stand up to anyone who wants to turn the handle in perpetuity. So here’s Divided, a simple and deliciously complex little artwork. I’m hoping to have a video soon to share the full madness.
*Both dolls have a horizontally placed circular disc at the bottom of their spindles. This then moves against a vertical cog on the central shaft in the shape of offset oval cog for the left doll and a triangular cog for the right doll.