• Installment 35a
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  • Roby Duncan Story Lewis Lain Art

    Installment 35a


    lewis here.

    when i’m not drawing totems, i work as a full-time visual artist ( see my work here ). i recently had the opportunity to produce an installation for Anysquared’s Because Art Residency at Hairpin Arts Center in Chicago.

    i decided to build a ‘resonant glass generator.’


    my non-digital work explores the idea that non-conductive, mundane material can contain energy generated by human contact with the material. for instance, when we look through a window at a tree outside, the light energy from that tree passes through the glass, hits our rods and cones and produces a visual of the tree. i suggest that some of that light energy is trapped in the glass every time that occurs. i have learned that when i focus my eyesight on glass that contains a critical mass of this energy (generally old windows from rehabs) it will come together and freeze into an image i can then trace with acrylic and cardboard–recycled cardboard can also contain this energy and becomes very sculpt-able.

    i have in my possession several 2’x4′ panels of bullet-proof glass. they do not currently contain the ‘resonant energy’ that i have seen in windows. i decided to use the installation as an opportunity to fill the glass with energy and turn it into ‘resonant glass.’ this would require the building of a generator–an interactive circuit where the viewer stands on one side of the glass(load) and observes a diode in the ‘conducting path’ that pushes the energy back at the load.

    the installation runs from october 10 til november 2. the windows i have been using have had 30-40 years of human interaction to build a sufficient charge. i realized this would mean i would need a ‘diode’ that was ‘supercharged’ to direct and magnify greater energy in a shorter time-frame. it would be a sculpture.

    enter ‘smaller totems.’
    roby and i have been working on totems for quite some time, it is no understatement that it has had a major impact on my arc as an artist. i decided the diode would be a physical manifestation of the smaller totems icon made from the boxes of my computer, tablet, and chair (my illustration tools). it would be massive and i would cover it with linework (frozen resonant energy). the hope is that sculpting with such intentions would build a powerful diode to focus and magnify the energy back into the glass.

    building the diode:

    1. i began by selecting the finest cardboard logs i could find. i use only reclaimed cardboard in my work.

    2. the logs are carved into blanks that will be the base of the totem pole.

    3.  the blanks are interlocked with a mortise and tenon-type process. the pole is ready to be sculpted.4web

    4. the sculpting process is free-moving.  i cut and fit pieces together on the fly to create the faces of each of our totems.  i am working from an illustration of the original totem pole, but i am not taking measurements or working with any sort of calculated scale.  the blanks are nearly 9 feet in height.  sindri, kamezou and polar rat take form.


    5. charlie, fat tom, and gottlieb follow suit.


    6. a base coat of color and black wash is applied to each segment.  black linework is painted onto the finished surface.  the base that will hothe glass is constructed from 2×8, 2×4, and 2×2 lengths of lumber.


    7.. the finished heads are locked together at the installation (but can be disconnected for travel).  here’s a detail of fat tom’s painted face.


    8. the finished ‘diode’ is installed.  it is marked with red gaff tape to create the circuit.


    9. the load (glass in the holder) are installed and marked with gaff.  an ‘x’ is placed in front of the glass where the viewer is to stand to complete the circuit.  when they look through the glass at the sculpture, the light energy from the totem pole passes through the glass and hits their eyes.  the same energy that causes their rods and cones to fire, gets trapped in the glass, building a charge of resonant energy.  when the exhibit is de-installed, the charged glass will be used as a canvas for a future painting.  11

    viola! a resonant glass generator with components directly inspired by smaller totems, built from the materials responsible for its creation.

    humbly submitted for your consideration,


    from opening reception. 
    photo by john bambino


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