Pendulum Project

2017 - Current

In fall 2017, I started an experimental research called Pendulum Project. In this research, I invented a musical installation called Time Machine as a heuristic device to explore the nature of time. I continued to reiterate Time Machine in many different ways for past two years, and documented every process.

Before the Pendulum Project, I did several other projects inspired by scientific and philosophical ideas. One of them investigated my psychological tension of intellectual authority between science and religion (or myth). Inspired by Plato's the allegory of cave, I created a model of my psyche as a form of cave in order to physically separate it from me. Then, I completely demolished the cave to liberate my intellectual and moral boundary. From the destruction, a new foundation of my conscious appeared as a singular identity called The Synthesis.

 

This profound experience taught me the transformative power of art that could radically reshape our mind through a creative practice. Since then, I was set free from the inevitable dilemma of choosing either religious doctrine or scientific rationalism. At first,

I felt very insecure and intimidated from losing my foundation; 

however, it turned out to be an incredible rebirth of my identity which led me to explore the nature of time, and eventually music

This portfolio aims to illustrate in detail how the Pendulum Project has developed from the beginning as an integral part of my practice. In addition, I want to emphasize several transformations of my identity along with other derivative works to deeply scope both personal and archetypal meaning and purpose of creating art as the ultimate wellbeing of humanity.

Dreaming Future, 2017

First automatic drawing in Pendulum Project

Approach

Out of cave, I established a new thinking model inspired by the concept of Dionysian and Apollonian from Nietzsche's The Birth

of Tragedy — two opposing forces creating dynamics of sublime 

phenomena in Greek art. Then, I explored this concept further by visually curating into a photography exhibition called On the Horizon. Our physical existence on the horizon seemed to me a remarkable evidence of the inevitable presence of polarity.

On the Horizon, 2017

Jeju Island

With newly refined thinking model, I extended my research to explore the nature of time — my lifelong curiosity. I began with scientific discoveries and theories about time which included Einstein's theory of relativity. These scientific ideas were 

rationally intriguing, yet problematic to comprehend an embodied experience. So my interest leaned more towards imagining how 

Einstein experienced time and incorporated his theory with the ordinary life. There I found a purpose of creating artwork that could tell a story about time which anyone could understand intuitively.

Asteroids of Memory, 2016

readymade objects

One of the common experiences we all have regarding time is childhood amnesia. We normally do not have any access to those memories. During this infantile period, we must experience time very differently, intuitively as a primal unity with nature. There is no such boundary that distinguishes memory and imagination.

This empirical gap seems enormous enough to cause a psychological exile from our past. Perhaps, we substantially suffer from the unconscious nostalgia for those forgotten time and space. If we could somehow bridge this gap, could we understand more about the modern neurosis like depression and Alzheimer's disease? 

 

 

Archetypal Home, 2017

soil and wood

We built our own cave to shield us from the Dionysian nature of time and choose to perceive the progress of time in chronological order. How/why did we ever develop this Apollonian perception out of the chaos? What is this conscious agent that creates the boundary between past and future? How can this boundary be destroyed again? Can we still maintain sanity while the boundary being destroyed?

Order and chaos are indistinguishable values without perception of time

I immediately became interested in the invention of clock — the 

motives and consequences of conceptualizing time. However, mere scientific measurement of time did not seem to address the true nature of time on its fundamental level. The increasing accuracy of clock only created more sophisticated illusion of boundary, not an insightful understanding of how we experience time.

 

What kind of clock then can lead us to a direct apprehension of the nature of time? Can I reverse the function of ordinary clock to recreate a sense of timelessness associated with our primitive psyche?  

Circulation of Matters, 2016

recycled materials

At the time, my girlfriend and I watched the movie Get Out, and we both got really intrigued by the hypnosis. It showed the possibility of losing conscious ego as well as the therapeutic function to remember or forget such memories. We actually tried on each other with a pendulum, and one time she really got into an altered state of mind. I was so shocked to see the pendulum could do such things. 

Pendulum seemed to me a wonderful mediator between science and phenomenology that could connect physics with psychology. The interdisciplinary synthesis opened up a new potential ground where I could push forward my research into a deeper artistic investigation.

Man of Clock, 2017

First, I implemented a physical experiment to observe the motion and behavior of pendulum. Also, I wanted to bring an artistic performance to imply the introduction of my research about time. So I casted a concrete cube to suspend it from the ceiling, and I concealed the cube in a metal container as a form of embryo to imply our primitive psychological state. During the critique,

I opened up the container to give a birth to time by moving the pendulum.

Birth of Time, 2017

concrete, chain, metal sheet, MDF, hardware and caster wheels

I found the motion of pendulum simple and beautiful. The consistent exchange of potential and kinetic energy created a sense of movement — the perception of time. It also resembled the behavior of our psyche as a constant flux between memory and imagination creating a sense of present — In the present, everything is in motion with the highest kinetic energy.

 

I was also inspired by Steve Reich's minimal gestures to create sound in his work Pendulum Music. The implication of the pendulum at equilibrium position was especially interesting to me which highlighted the instant present. I wanted to develop this experimentation into inventing more sophisticated pendulum which could reflect our mind and body as an autonomous singularity. I wanted it to be breathing, moving, communicating with the world by itself. 

Time Travel, 2017

Pneumatic Pendulum

Breathing is one of the most critical and explicit regulations for life. The rhythm of breathing is similar to that of mechanical clock in terms of expressing the passage of time. I wanted to use the air as a primary force to move the pendulum.

Using found objects, I fabricated a prototype of pneumatic pendulum to see if this simple mechanism could work.

After prototyping, I started designing the pendulum with three major considerations:

  • functional (air outlet and sensors) 

  • concrete cube (as an evolved version of the previous one)

  • minimal form

The pneumatic pendulum has a pair of air outlets on each side and a pinhole in front and back of the pendulum for sensors. I also fabricated TIP circuit to control the solenoid via Arduino. All of these elements are concealed inside the pendulum. 

When the Arduino receives an analogue signal from the light sensor, it converts into a digital signal for the air solenoid to release a series of instant air blasts. By precisely controlling the timing, I could generate a successful motion and even stop the pendulum.

Gravity Engine, 2017 

Architecture

When I was a child, I spent most of my time at playground. I loved to invent new games and challenges with other kids so that we could always have fun at the same playground. It was an 

incredible learning place for collaboration, competition, and experimentation. I used to dream of becoming a playground designer.

Sometimes I go back to the playground in my childhood home town to remember those faded memories in flashback. From looking at the old and empty playground, I always have this uncanny feeling of nostalgia for the past that I can never be part of again. The place where I used to imagine so much of possibilities now became a tiny time capsule. 

When it came to design the architectural body of pendulum,

I wanted to dissolve this emotion and feeling of looking at my old playground. Using an industrial swing bracket as a core element, I designed a triangular shaped architecture with a treehouse on one end.

The treehouse is consisted of two separate spaces. The upper space houses an air compressor, and the lower space is called the Time Space — it is a potential space for possible experiments using light and motion.

When the pendulum is set on move, light comes into the Time Space converged by the convex lens. In the back, there is a peephole where you can observe this incoming light blinking.

This optical system has open possibilities for creating time-based signals for musical performance.

The Observer, 2017 

By using a projector beam, I activated Time Machine for the first time. The title of this performance is When Time Was Not So Strange.

Symphony of Time Machine

My initial approach to Pendulum Project mainly prioritized

heuristic function of exploring the nature of time by accessing our archetypal experience of forgetting. The beauty laid in every process as unintended consequences of functionality. In the following semester, I experimented a reversed approach —

prioritize the aesthetic, and let the functionality be found in the process. In this way, I anticipated to discover unexpected but genuine function of my art. 

 

I came to recognize the combination of kinetic sound and motion as a dynamic aesthetic phenomenon that I wanted to pursue. So I composed these elements into a kind of music for certain purpose

that was not revealed yet. Besides, with an extended research in perceptual phenomenon of synesthesia, I created new artworks, Primal Heart and TAKELSD.   

This sonic sculpture called Primal Heart resonates a modified sound of wave within the structure via a pair of transducers. It has LED light that automatically turns on when the ultrasonic module detects the proximity of the audience. Then, this LED light activates Time Machine creating a unique and intimate relationship in order to effectively engage the audience as part of the whole performance.

I also improved the performance of Time Machine by modifying

the code to adjust the air blasts at right timing, and composing

them into a set of notes. Both Primal Heart and Time Machine performs simultaneously for 3.5 minutes by synchronizing sound and motion with each other.

 

In spring 2018, I presented the completed installation at Flex Space in Chicago under the title, Symphony of Time Machine.

The Symphony of Time Machine aims to synthesize a musical bridge to the sensation of our primitive time. By blending visual and sound into a form of stereoscopic conscious, the past

combines with the present, and future becomes evident. 

 

The instantaneous prelude of the symphony aims to awake

the audience in a hyperpresent where the intuitive dialogue about time takes place. During the interval of the silence, the audience quietly staring at the pendulum seemed to dissolve into the reminiscence of the primal psyche. 

Conclusion

The ultimate goal of Pendulum Project is to develop a personalized

sound and performance that can transcend my mind and body over the illusion of polarity, eventually life and death. For past two years, Pendulum Project branched out into a deeper investigation in my identity through extensive psychoanalysis with diverse media.

First, I continued developing the Symphony of Time Machine. Under the project Annunciation, I fabricated additional sculptural

elements and invented some special tools for my future kinetic and sonic sculptures. I wish to combine them with Time Machine to explore music and sound in depth with technology. Time Machine itself is an open system which can be modified anytime like a real conductor of the symphony. I desire to research advanced technology like extended intelligence to give my sculptures even greater degree of autonomy. 

Secondly, Time Machine went through a major transformation process after I composed a poem called Genesis Trilogy by conceiving the inner voice. Since then, I continued to pursue the origin of this voice which led me into a psychological journey until now. In this journey, I experienced the manifestation of the unconscious psyche, and produced a series of writings and paintings as a form of personal psychoanalysis.

Thirdly, I started to investigate Korean folk rituals and traditional shamanism as part of discovering the cultural context of my superego. I created a series of collaborative works with other artists, and formed anonymous performance group called Telepathy And Landscapes. This research currently focuses on the ancient eastern texts and philosophy.

Time Machine is now located in Brooklyn, New York. This is the latest version of documentation during the pandemic in 2020. 

© 2020 Hosu Lee. All rights reserved.