Triple Helix

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2013 – 12 feet tall. 1027 strings, 9280 pulleys, wood, steel, aluminum polycarbonate, three electric motors.

For years now, whenever my mind was free to drift, I’ve invariably found myself trying to imagine the confluence of three waves. I had a feeling the forms created would be beautiful, and somehow true to this world. But the design proved wonderfully elusive, and the mental pursuit took me down all sorts of paths, most lined with extraordinary numbers of pulleys. Two years ago a breakthrough led to some real progress (if you can call progress a month of hammering in 10,000 dowel pins). I put it aside when I got busy with commissions, and then picked it back up in November 2012 for a focused eight-month effort. It was fantastic to work on, with significant challenges almost every day, right up to the very end. My delight in how well it turned out is tempered by a sense of loss: this sculpture has been like a keel to me for a long time.

The Triple Helix has 1027 hexagonal wood blocks, a welded steel frame, three aluminum helices and a polycarbonate matrix with 9280 pulleys. The sheer number of parts combined with a high level of precision almost got the better of me, but served to dramatically increase both the fluidity and variability. The combined amplitude is greater than the diameter, resulting in a continuous wavescape of steep contours and smooth curves. The forms are mathematically complex, full of unexpected saddles and peaks. At the same time its sensuousness reminds me of traditional figure drawing: I keep wanting to get a pad of paper and spend time studying each pose it takes.

With three 40 Watt electric motors, the Triple Helix is almost completely silent and contains nothing digital. Decisions about lighting, whether it should be on legs or fully suspended, and even the ideal height for it, are best determined with its final home in mind.