Wednesday, February 04, 2009
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Kinetic sculptor David Bowen's work can be seen in the Herron Gallery now through March 7 as part of a two-person show, a short movable wall away from the work of balloon sculptor Jason Hackenwerth. This is the first show in new Gallery Director Paula Katz' era at Herron, as the previous shows this year were planned before she arrived.
Bowen started out in steel fabrication and then segued into kinetic sculpture. He is fascinated with simple switches, motors, and other devices which he incorporates into his sculpture.
Much of his sculpture has a participatory element, a robotic element, and some kind of drawing as a relic of the interaction between human (or insect) and machine. His lecture featured videos of many of the pieces he has created in the past few years. One of the trademarks of Bowen's work is that he shows the guts of the machines he makes, and he loves to talk about the phototropic cells, microcontrollers, and other gizmos he uses to animate his pieces.
Bowen's work attempts to mimic the movement of humans and animals by mechanical means. In the last few years, Bowen has started working with houseflies, which he purchases in the pupa stage off of the internet.
"Swarm" (2008) is a robotic, three-wheeled sculpture contained in a roughly fifteen foot diameter black ring in the center of the gallery. The robot's movement is in response to the interaction of two hundred houseflies with a series of sensors.
On the wall is a mechanical arm which draws in charcoal on a roll of paper in response to the movements of people passing in front of the four sensors connected to the arm, "Infrared Drawing Device" (2003).
The effect is of a crazy little man scribbling frantically on the wall. Every twenty-four hours the paper scrolls over leaving one complete drawing for each day the piece is up.
Overall, the two sculptors work compliments each other well as they approach sculpture in two alternative, but very different ways. It's good to see some 3D contemporary work at Herron.