River Loom

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River Loom is installed in a beautiful gallery at the Boston Science Museum. One whole side of the gallery has windows overlooking the Charles River. The other side has multiple levels providing a variety of views. While I wanted to create an undulating canopy that helped define a sense of place for the Charles River Gallery, I also wanted to keep the sculpture transparent enough that it didn’t detract from the airiness of the space. I both wanted the sculpture to relate to the river’s movements and colors, and also to the river’s complexity, as it exists somewhere between the wild and the engineered.

I felt that the perimeter of the sculpture should be somewhat random looking, and settled on an irregular pentagonal pattern. There are 271 strings summed by two eccentric cams and distributed through a pentagonal web to move a lower blue aluminum matrix. With a prime number of strings and an irregular pentagonal pattern, this was one of the hardest sculptures I’ve ever made. Each string starts at the top eccentric, passes through a specific location on the upper ring, through a pulleyed thimble on the lower eccentric, through the lower ring, through the web, and finally to the vertices of the blue undulating grid.

I’d like to thank many people for help with this sculpture. First, everyone at the Museum of Science was absolutely a pleasure to work with. Thanks in particular to Peter Nadeau, Greg Murray, Chelsea Murphy, Mike Horvath, and Jane Jolkovski . You all made this project very fun! Thanks to Dan Torop who helped me find the coordinates of the irregular pentagonal pattern and for his superb rendering and animation skills. Thanks to Ian Urban for a thoroughly enjoyable couple months of fabrication help, and for making the nicest looking welds I’ve seen. Thanks to Rob Otani and Dan Reynolds from Thornton Tomasetti for tackling the structural engineering of the static part of the sculpture. They made the sculpture better at every opportunity, working with me to make the web and frame as elegant as possible. And many thanks to Production Robotics, Paragon Machine Works, Advanced Laser and Waterjet, Professional Finishing, Melrose Metal Finishing for beautiful work all around. Together you all make quite an amazing team! Let’s do it again!