From the mesmerizing murmurations of starlings in flight to harnessing kinetic energy to power our lives, the mechanics of motion is a fascinating thing. Coming from a background in physics, engineering and chemistry, American artist David C. Roy creates these captivating kinetic sculptures that can be wound up once and run, unassisted, for many hours on end, without electricity.
The underlying theme is one that started with the beauty of machines in motion. It evolved into one where I search for beauty in changing patterns of motion.
With names like Variations on a Wave, Nautilus, Falling Water and Summer Rain, Roy's pieces seem to be meditations on movements found in the natural world, from water ripples to the passage of clouds.
Roy, a self-taught woodworker, uses wood and various special components to drive his long-running designs, with the latest ones operating with constant force springs:
Constant force springs have the same qualities as a weight drive, that is almost constant torque over the full wind of the spring. They are small and can be incorporated just about anywhere in a sculpture. No longer would I have to think about a weight drop path or design complicated pulley and string suspension systems. Soon after learning about them, I started using the springs and never looked back.
Roy's latest piece, Dimension, can twirl on for a jaw-dropping 40 hours (now, that's entertainment).
The beauty of Roy's works makes us wonder if art could make wind turbines less ugly and more appealing to a larger public. In any case, these sculptures are entrancing to look at, as if they are distilling the complex motions of the natural universe in a more stylized, deceptively simple form. So far, Roy has made over 150 designs, many of which can be sold as editions via his website. To find out more, visit Wood That Works or see more sculptures move on David Roy's YouTube channel.