Tag Archives: Joshua Tree

Fluidity

One of my favorite aesthetics in the mixed medium sculptures and installations I make is fluids. Fluids suggest life, change, evolution. They can signify tears, blood, flow, gradual or rapid ripples, possibly something uncontrollable and inexorable, joyous and fertile, especially if bubbling is involved (yum!). However, working with them can be pretty tricky in several ways. One is evaporation. One isn’t keen on having to top-up fluids in an artwork often. It occurred to me years ago at my Silicon Valley studio, as I was making a mad scientist wall sculpture, that the most appropriate fluid might be some kind of oil. I wanted my mad scientist helium-neon red laser tube to cast its beam into a fluid that would glow. 30 weight motor oil seemed to work at first, and had a gorgeous honey amber, gooey sense to it, primordial. Unfortunately it didn’t refract enough light throughout.

In the background I hear “…slings and arrows of outrageous skeletons…” from an engineer/artist friend Paul B. (a.k.a. Dr. Zrint in our mad scientist club).

Brake fluid worked for a while till it clouded up from exposure to air.

“ha Ha Hunh!” from behind a big black box marked I wouldn’t If I Were You. Zrint again.

Giggling, I went over to see what in hell was going on. Paul was motorizing a small plastic skeleton to dip in and out of a little vat of fluid in a sculpture he was working on. He wanted a fluid that was clear but wouldn’t evaporate or become cloudy over time. He had struck on the idea of mineral oil for use in his installation piece.

Brilliant! I replaced the brake oil with mineral oil and added a bit of yellow food coloring until it had the tint I wanted, and would refract the most laser glow. Thanks Dr. Zrint!

The reply was “veni, vedi, zzzzzt!”

Liquids are a basic theme to KARF:JT (Kanobis Amplifier Research Facility; Joshua Tree) Research Station 2 that will reside eventually in the shed I have built in Joshua Tree. One of the fluid circulating systems uses oil and I have used water in a couple of other systems, however it is in nearly sealed vessels and I don’t think it will evaporate for quite a few years. Various trips out to make additions and modifications to the installation over the years will allow plenty of topping-up opportunities.

Oh, yeah, and the fluids variously bubble.Bubbling flask still

Research Station 2 detail of glass vessel with clouded liquid among tubes, clamps, displays, cables and wires.

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Shed 2 basic construction completed

Shed 2 construction east view 72

Shed 2 under construction at site in Joshua Tree California

I made the trip to Joshua Tree and completed the basic structure for Shed 2 over the week of March 17-25, 2018. A special thanks to Aimee, for assisting at the beginning of the week when I needed extra hands and Victor Vincente of America who also lent a hand and took lots of documentation photos for me. The next trip will be to deliver Research Station 2 and the Mansard roof and do the finish work on the shed.

A very special thanks to my collector, Linda who hosted me and has provided the site!

Station 2 sound system

Each of the research stations in the KARF installations has its own sound system. I record and mix a soundscape that is specific to each station in addition to the sounds the equipment makes. Station 2 ( that will be installed in Shed 2 due to be built the first week of February, 2018, in Joshua Tree, California, where it will reside permanently), being themed around fluids and solutions, has a sound track that features voice transmissions of technicians and scientists talking about the science of Station 2. I wrote a script, recorded myself reading the parts, modified each voice track, and mixed in some other segments from other soundscapes I have done for other stations. The end mix will play from a 4 gigabyte mp3 player amplified through a scavenged car stereo. I had to hack the player so it would waken and go into play mode without anyone having to press the buttons on it. The photo shows the prototype setup on my electronics bench. Station 2 sound sys proto