Evaporation (Tipping Point) 2006 • Kinetic Sound Sculpture
36" x 36" x 40"; toys, custom electronic hardware and software, plexiglass, wood
Evaporation (Tipping Point) is a response to the war in Iraq. It examines the political rhetoric through which this war has been promoted by sampling the unedited speeches of President George W. Bush. It creates a soundscape of these speeches randomly intermixed through triggering events every bit as arbitrary as the reasons presented for going to war.
The work is comprised of a 4 x 4 gird of 16 "drinking bird" toys. This toy is an example of a thermodynamic heat engine, converting heat energy into kinetic energy. The blue fluid inside the toy is methylene chloride, a chemical with a very low boiling point. When the head of the toy bird is saturated with water, the playback cycle begins. As the water evaporates, the head cools and the methylene chloride vapors inside it condense. This creates a pressure differential between the head and the body which forces fluid up through the body into the head. Once enough fluid has passed into the head, the center of gravity shifts and the toy tilts, taking up more water from the glass and allowing the internal fluid to flow back down into the body. The cycle then repeats.
Each toy is wired with a tilt switch controlling the playback of an audio file of a significant speech on Iraq by George W. Bush. Each toy controls its own audio file and when it tilts audio playback begins. The audio "spins up" from zero to full speed at the start of each tilt event and then "spins down" once the event is over. The next tilt event starts playback from where it last stopped so each speech is heard in its entirety. A light beneath each toy highlights which one is currently playing.
(click on a thumbnail below to view a larger image)
(These are very short video clips which were shot with a poor camera so the resulting sound/image quality is rather bad)