Spatial Pendulum

1990 Amsterdam, Netherlands

Software: Charly Jungbauer

This installation was commissioned as a permanent installation for the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. It was designed for the rectangular four-storey-high atrium at the entrance of the building.

At floor level on the fourth storey, a steel frame is fitted with motorised pulleys at each of its four corners. These pulleys dynamically control the length of four steel cables that hang down inside the atrium attached to a large steel ball. Varying the length of each cable will cause the ball to fly about freely within the atrium.

The software application for the Spatial Pendulum is installed on the Centre’s computer network, and is open to all the researchers working in this building. It gives them control over the pulleys and cable lengths so they can describe and affect the spatial path of the ball’s movements. In this respect the installation is a quite early example of a computerised, networked, crowd-controlled kinetic sculpture.

The installation also provides a ‘screen saver’ within the building. A graphic representation of the Spatial Pendulum can be set to appear on any screen, and it will show the exact position and behaviour of the ball as it moves in real time in the atrium.