“Answers” to Exhibit Questions

Have you had a chance to play with our exhibits at a local library or other public space?

We hope that you enjoyed experimenting with them, and have come up with your own questions and answers.

Although our exhibits are built to be intuitive and open-ended – sometimes we have signs associated with them to pose some questions.  Here are some answers to the questions we’ve posed on the signage to some of our exhibits.  Remember: we only bring one or two of our exhibits to “pop-ups”, so some of the answers may be to exhibits that you haven’t yet seen…

Q: Is this a Kinetic Sculpture?

A: Kinetic art is art which has moving parts – and generally depends upon this motion for effect.  These parts move due to input from wind, a motor or the observer.  Kinetic sculpture is a form of kinetic art which is three dimensional.  The first kinetic sculpture is generally thought to be Bicycle Wheel (1913) by Marcel Duchamp, but the golden age of kinetic sculpture is the 1950’s and 1960’s.

All of RIMOSA’s exhibits require hands-on input from the observer – so yes this is a kinetic sculpture.

Cloth Waves:

Q: Where is this exhibit getting the energy to make waves?  One of the cloth levers is on wheels – what tension of cloth makes the best waves?

A: The energy to make waves here is coming from you!  As for the best tension of cloth to make waves – that’s one only you can answer through trial and error.

Q: What is it about this material that makes it look like water?

A: This material, satin, has a very tight weave.  The threads that make the cloth are very close together so that they catch the air and move with the air, rather than allowing air to pass through.  Since air is a fluid – this cloth moves with the air and outlines its fluid nature.  It tends to look like water – another fluid.

 Gear Table:

Gears change one type of motion into another.  Depending on their size, and how many gears are in a chain, they move faster or slower, counter clockwise or clockwise.

If one gear moves clockwise, the gear linking directly with it will move counterclockwise.  The next gear in the chain will move clockwise again.  Larger gears take longer to go all the way around and – with the same effort – will have slower revolutions per minute than a smaller gear.

Q: Do some patterns appear to move even when standing still?

A: I don’t know – you tell me!  This is a matter of perspective which can vary from individual to individual.

Q: Which artist created these optical illusions?

A: The simple black and white spirals and patterns were created by Marcel Duchamp.

Light Pendulum:

Q: When you set the light pendulum in motion, you start the motion – what slows it down?

A: Friction slows the pendulum and its kinetic energy is lost, bit by bit, as heat.

Wooden Wave:

Q: Why do these wooden bars look like rounded waves?  Can you make the wave come straight across the box to you?  The wave moves towards you – but do the wooden bars ever get any closer to you?

A: A wave is an up and down movement of particles, one after the other.  The wooden wave seems to come towards you, but the bar which is farthest from you will never get any closer – just like people “doing the wave” in a stadium stand up and sit down, without ever changing their seats.

Q: What other materials can be used to make waves?

A: Almost any material!  Artist Reuben Margolin has done a lot of work with waves in different materials.  You can even make a wave with people at a sporting event…

Rainbow Drum:

Q: How are energy and sound related? Why do these tubes make different sounds? We once put colored sand in the bottom of these tubes – that made it sound terrible! (why?)

A: Sound is caused by the air vibrating.  And vibrating (moving) air is a form of kinetic (motion) energy.  The tubes on Rainbow drum make different sounds because they have different amounts of air inside them which vibrates.  A larger amount of air vibrates more slowly, creating a lower pitch.  A smaller amount of air vibrates more quickly, creating a higher pitched sound.

The more densely packed particles are, the better sound moves through them (or reflects off of them).  Hard things like the plastic tubes we use allow sound to reflect off of them or move through them.  Loose sand absorbs sound waves very effectively, muting the sound.

Q: What is synesthesia, and what does that have to do with this exhibit?

A: Synesthesia is from the Greek words meaning “joined perception”.  It is “an involuntary joining in which the real information of one sense is accompanied by a perception in another sense.” (R. Cytowic, “Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses” Springer-Verlag, NY (p.1)).  The combination of sound and color in this exhibit is a synesthetic experience.

Sand Table:

Q: The sand in this table was once deep blue, bright green and intense purple. What color is it now?

A: It looks, to me, like sort of a teal-ish color.  Something between blue, green and purple.

Q: Does it look different from a distance and close up?

A: From a distance, the sand looks to be more or less a uniform color.  Up close, you can see that each individual grain is not a blended color – but is still either deep blue, bright green or intense purple.

Q: What does this have to do with “pointillism”? (What IS “pointillism”?)

A: Pointillism is a method of painting, developed in the late 1880′s from Impressionism, in which blended colors are achieved not through mixing paint colors, but through placing dots of pure colors next to each other and allowing the eye and mind to blend them to a fuller range of tones.  Examples of this are seen in the work of seen in the works of Seurat, Signac and Cross.