Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Wheel in Motion

Diego Velazquez, The Spinners, 1657
The Chicago Wheel / The First Ferris Wheel, 1893
Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel, 1913
Martin Kersels, Tumble Room, 2001
(From the top!) In 1657, Diego Velazquez was the first to capture the illusion of movement in his oil painting, The Spinners. Here the wheel depicts apparent motion, paradoxically frozen in a hypnotic blur.

The original Ferris Wheel, also referred to as The Chicago Wheel,
opened to the public in 1893. With each revolution, occupants were swept upwards and then downwards, experiencing the view quite like a bird or possibly a bat would. Or because the Ferris wheel moved at a slow rate, maybe a better analogy would be that occupants experienced a sense of planetary motion.

In 1913 Marcel Duchamp, the high-level chess player, mathematician, theorist and goofy Dadaist, came up with his creation entitled, Bicycle Wheel. It is a bicycle wheel that turns on a fork mounted on a wooden stool. Because it was assembled from manufactured parts, Duchamp called it an "assisted readymade." It is now considered to be the first important piece of kinetic sculpture. Despite what the critics may have vented, Duchamp enjoyed a direct pleasure from spinning his quirky wheel and is widely quoted as saying, "I enjoyed looking at it, just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace."

Martin Kersels’ installation “Tumble Room” went on display in the exhibition "Under Destruction" in Switzerland. First presented at Deitch Projects in New York in 2001, Tumble Room is a life-size recreation of a young girl’s bedroom. Turning on an axis centered on its back wall the room slowly spins, tumbling its contents from floor to ceiling. The spinning room grinds its furniture much like a rock tumbler grinds its stones, gradually destroying its contents to smithereens. By centrifugal force the trashed furnishings are sprinkled out through a hole cut into one side of the room, littering a fenced enclosure with the bits and pieces.

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