Helio Curve

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In 2013 I was invited by Hyundai Motor Company to create a sculpture for their second Sculpture in Motion show. After a year and a half of work I’m very pleased to announce the opening of Helio Curve in April 2015, during Milan Design Week.

Helio Curve has two mechanical drives located 65 feet apart the ground. These produce continuously varying motion, which is translated through strings to the top of a 15 foot steel cube and then down to 400 wooden blocks.

With the sculpture Helio Curve, I wanted to try several new things. Mostly I wanted to create a continuous, yet transparent moving form. After experimenting with different shapes I settled upon an open celled wooden block that would allow the light to percolate through a solid surface. The blocks are all T-slotted together to allow for lateral stability, while still allowing relative vertical movement.

I placed the mechanical drives on the ground so that people could see them better, and added a secondary arm to the mechanism. This secondary arm is connected by a roller chain to a fixed sprocket, and so it rotates in the opposite direction as the primary arm, giving a constantly changing amplitude and frequency. There are two of these drives, and their cumulative motion is added together in the wooden blocks. Because this epicycloid movement reminded me of the varying orbits of celestial bodies, and because the form of the drives reminded me of sundials, I settled on the title of Helio Curve.

There are lots of folks to thank for helping with this sculpture! First, thanks to Hyundai for the opportunity to create a new and ambitious sculpture, and for all their work required to put on the Sculpture in Motion show: shipping, lighting, sound, communications and mostly for being such supporters of the arts.

Thanks to Ian Urban who helped me for several months in California making the sculpture, and who in particular did an extraordinary job with all the welding. Thanks to Richard Vertz, my shop mate, who was always there to help out, and who almost single handedly drove in the 11,000 small nails holding the wooden blocks together. Some of the parts I made in my shop, while some I prototyped, drew, and then sent to local shops with CNC capabilities or more specialized tooling. So thanks for the excellent work from Production Robotics, Berkeley Mills, White Brother’s Mill, Advanced Laser and Waterjet, and Bob’s Machining.