Thursday, July 02, 2009

Equilibrium Stack Wobbles

Equilibrium Stack Wobbles, originally uploaded by e s c h e r.

This might give you some idea why I called this "equilibrium stack."

I am really glad I captured this bit of footage. One thing I have mentioned before is the challenge of capturing an ephemeral sculpture at it's most vital and often that is just before it collapses, is washed or blown away or falls apart. It is something I first heard Andy Goldsworthy talk about and now I know exactly what he means.

With a stack like this it is often a little different. The most vital moment comes when you beat the imminent collapse and yet keep it together long enough to get it complete and standing. The dodgy moments come half or three-quarters of the way through as the last layers are lighter and don't have such an affect on it's balance. With leaf sculptures it is often at the end when something will fall apart. With those you see the most vital moment captured in the photograph. Yet with stacks you don't, you just see the result of it getting past that critical moment. You have to get the whole thing in equilibrium and often once built it will stay up for a while (unless it is windy) as it is not disturbed from it's balanced position.

This is best viewed large in HD (let it download then watch once it all has) so you can really see how much this thing wobbles. What I love about this is I managed to get on film the most vital moment and still get the thing to stay upright first go. I either don't bother filming or it collapses there and then. It is rare to complete one after such big shift in the balance.

You can see as I try to place the stone on the top, despite it being quite a small one, that it immediately tips it out of balance and rolls on some of the pebbles at the bottom. I hold it up with two fingers and remove that layer, and amazingly it holds. And really I was amazed! Not breathing and heart pounding! I try again and the same thing happens again, yet I manage to keep it upright. A big slice of luck was needed to do that and I was still amazed!

The other thing I remembered was how the moving water flowing underneath the layer I was adding (as in it was directly in my line of sight) was really giving me vertigo which made it very hard to tell if the structure was wobbling, especially when I added a new layer. It was making me dizzy and meant I couldn't tell when it had stopped wobbling. It even looks to me, on the film, as though it continues to wobble, but in balance when I remove that layer. Anyway I think it is cool!

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