Spending the F.A.T. with Arthur Ganson by Melis A. '08
A missed opportunity to build kinetic sculptures with artist Arthur Ganson.
News flash: Thanksgiving vacation is over. I spent my three days at home eating, ice skating, eating, shopping, eating, and watching movies. At the time, I knew that two actions were notably absent from my list of activities — “studying” and “sleeping.” Unfortunately, I have a test tomorrow and I had two problem sets due yesterday, so my so-called fun-filled holiday was slightly marred by the stress that I knew I should have been working…and catching up on sleep.
Up until this morning, I had only regretted not spending more time doing work. That is, until I scanned the front page of The Tech, MIT’s major newspaper, and saw a picture from an event called Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.), sponsored by the MIT Museum. Here’s the photo and caption:
“A graduate from Emmanuel College, Dave Kemp sets up his Rube Goldberg-like ‘Toy Land’ contraption for the MIT Museum sponsored Friday After Thanksgiving (F.A.T.) ‘Chain Reaction’ event. MIT students and Arthur Ganson, a kinetic sculptor and renowned chain reaction creator, connected all the devices together into one grand chain reaction. The event was held in Rockwell Cage on Friday, Nov. 24.”
I can’t believe I missed an opportunity to build something that would grace the presence of Arthur Ganson! (http://www.arthurganson.com/) Arthur Ganson is an “artist-in-residence” at MIT and some of his pieces are on display at the MIT Museum. His machines are incredible feats of creativity that combine art, engineering, and comedy. I’m a huge fan, I even joined MIT’s Hobby Shop to try my hand at kinetic sculpture, but I haven’t gotten past the design phase yet. =(
Here were the guidelines for the event:
* Your link in the chain reaction should be no wider that 2′, no taller than 4′, and no longer than 6′, should use no chemicals (baking soda and vinegar OK), no plug-in electricity (batteries and low-power DC OK), or use more than a cup of water.
* Your link must BEGIN and END by a string pull. Be sure that it takes no more force than the hanging weight of a golf ball moving 1″ to start your link and ends by pulling a string AT LEAST 1″ with enough force to lift a golf ball.
* Your link must be repeatable.
* Test your chain reaction before bringing it to the event.
* Make your event last AT LEAST 30 seconds and end in LESS THAN three minutes. Give your audience time to enjoy your event, be it funny, playful, clever, whimsical, or elegant.
To watch some videos of his creations, go to: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/tags/arthur-ganson/. His website has a lot of great pictures as well. I’d encourage all of you to visit the MIT Museum and see his work in person.
Here’s one of his inventions (taken from his website):