A Room-Sized Spirograph Machine

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Exhibited at MINDCRAFT 11 earlier this month at the annual Milan Design Week, Eske Rex's room-sized drawing machine looks like a medieval torture device, bulky and unwieldy, rough and unfinished. But when it starts moving, the wood, stone and steel structure produces beautiful drawings that can cover an entire wall, beautiful drawings that Co. Design's John Pavlus notes "only the naked laws of physics can produce."

Story continues after the gallery.

Amazingly, Swedish-born and Danish-based Rex had never heard of the Spirograph, the children's toy that produces remarkably similar art on a much smaller scale, according to a short profile by Wired UK. Instead, he was inspired by the harmonograph, a mid-19th century mechanical apparatus that produces Lissajous curves, a complex family of shapes studied by mathematicians. While the harmonograph uses one pendulum to control a drawing device and a second to control a canvas, Rex's design calls for a two-pendulum device with a static canvas.

The Drawingmachine, Eske's name for his device, which produces art but is also itself considered an installation piece, uses two pendulums supported by large structures that stand at two ends of a similarly large canvas. The pendulums are connected to support systems (drawing arms) that meet in the middle of the canvas at a 90-degree angle and hold a single ballpoint pen, as you can see in the embedded images.

"The pendulums are set in motion by hand, and their movements are represented on the paper," according to a press release. "The movements of the pendulums affect the entire room and the experience engages the beholder's body. While the rhythmic repetitions cause the beholder to pause, the drawing emerges on the paper."

Images: Copyright Eske Rex. Used with the permission of the artist.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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