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Video Ball Sculpture

1980 Tilburg, Netherlands
Coauthor: Theo Botschuijver

Production: Eventstructure Research Group, Amsterdam

Commissioned as a permanent installation for the Scholengemeenschap Quirijn, this sculpture contained over two thousand dark blue and light yellow balls that could be dynamically positioned to create low-pixel-resolution images on a digital display. Viewers created the designs of these images interactively, by finger-drawing them on a touch screen standing in front of the display.

The Ping-Pong-sized balls sat inside a clear plastic structure that had thirty-two vertical columns. Computer-controlled solenoids selected a specific arrangement of blue and yellow balls within each of these columns to generate each new image. Row by row the solenoids inserted these into the display from the bottom, causing the balls that belonged to an earlier image to be pushed up till they dropped over the top and fell into reservoirs behind the display. These reservoirs supplied the blue and yellow balls to be electro-mechanically sorted and inserted into the display for the following image.

The refresh rate of this noisy process of image transformation was about five minutes. Viewers could also use the touch screen to draw patterns that determined timing delays in the movement of respective columns of balls. Such patterns dynamically distorted the shapes of both the old and the new images during their period of transition, thereby adding another aesthetic dimension to the sculpture’s behavior. Once a new image had settled into the ball display, a viewer could create and input the next drawing.

Exhibition Record

1980:  Quirijn