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Project Video in current state:

SirensPreAutomation from Thad Trubakoff on Vimeo.


Designed to provide a moiré screen effect, “Sirens”  is a moving piece of wall sculpture that creates intense visual and audial effects as the opposed wheels spin.  A problem has arisen however, initially the system harnessed energy by catching cascading sand in scoops.  The system currently requires two users to lift receptacles which pours the sand over the scoops thus turning the wheels.  Although my work focuses on systems and the human viewer/user variable, in this case the human simply introduced too many variables and the effects became unpredictable and unwarranted. Simply stated; the system failed with the provided freedom to or of the individual. For success the “equation” or “system” should use concise human derived variables, such as sheer presence or perhaps the number of people engaged in “Sirens” system at any given time. It became very evident that the piece needed an automation system derived using the individual as a variable in a more concise nature.

Automation and robotics is a realm of actualization that intrigues me immensely.  As a young child I took apart everything I could get my hands on in order to understand how systems work.  Carrying or following that same method or process of thinking through my life has prepared me to apply mechanical problem solving to design and build art machines and mechanisms.  Up until recently my work harnessed the energy of a human for the system. In this there is an interesting relationship which occurs between the artist, the work, and the audience. It takes the traditional viewer of the piece and turns them into a user who receives a much more involved and sensory packed experience.  However, as stated before there are problems… Humans are huge woven balls of variables. Although we can be coerced into a false sense of control, in the end the user has all the say on what happens.  Who is to say that a user will even expend the necessary energy upon the system?… the work has failed at this point and the gallery lights might as well be off the viewer was passive and didn’t become engaged with the piece.

The project is in a static state and needs change. Microcontrollers, sensors and motors will allow me to design a system that can sense presence and then provide a desired effect based on certain parameters.  The plan, which is already underway, is to add a motion sensor or ping sensor to sense human presence.  When that variable is satisfied the overhead lights will dim, the wheels will be spun in opposing directions and a backlight will pulse in relation to wheel speed.  Some intimacy might be lost between the work and the user since there is no physical contact but it will function more like a machine and less like an open ended toy.  “Sirens” will sing a visual song drawing the user in giving an experience that tugs on many sensory levels. The piece will provide a dialogue to discuss the role of engineering and automation within a Fine Art setting. “Sirens” will beckon lasting conversation within one’s self.  What is the possibility for “the Future of Me” within Fine Arts?

My process starts by drawing in Rhinoceros. This allows me to create laser cut patterns and also allows me to create embellishment with surface treatments.  Parts are then crafted from the patterns as to create an assemblage that works as a machine. Geometry in my work is based upon the golden ratio and Euclidian curves.  This provides an inherent and natural connection of the human user to the form and intermingled function of the work. Subconsciously we recognize this proportion and derived curve as beautiful. They are the proportions that the natural world including ourselves is created from. Aesthetic, form and function should be bound and inspired by nature to create a harmonious work.  This brings up another interesting idea in that if we are all individuals is there really one true actualization of beauty.  Does this compete with or support the idea of free will?

Prototyping implements are costly and in order to put mechanical theories into place they are necessary. With the proper grant seeding further exploration and experimentation can be sought and actualized.  The leap towards art automation and a pure blend of engineering, science, humanities, design and the arts is a leap I have to take.  Current art is making a strong push in this direction and it is an exciting time to be an artist.  I am ready to jump.


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