ARTIST: Lawrence MacCary
MATERIALS: Electronics, hand-woven wire and yarn
DIMENSIONS: 8" x 8" 16"
Plutarch is a bit of a mystery to me. I named it for a first
century Greek historian who wrote a huge tome, "Lives of
Illustrious Men", about famous Greeks and then compared
them to famous Romans. The artwork of this name also has lived
several lives, none of which were remotely related to the finished
product. One part first lived as a calibration oscillator for
a shortwave radio. The second part was the demodulator and audio
amplifier for a VLF (very low frequency) converter. The third
part lived for a while as a VFO (variable frequency oscillator)
in an experiment. The way for me to compare all these bits and
pieces was to string them all together, mix the outputs, stand
back and see what would happen.
I can tell you what Plutarch is not. It is not a Theremin, nor
a metal locator, nor a proximity detector although it marries
together some of the features of all of these instruments. The
best description I can come up with is "Touch me and I'll
tell", because that is the way Plutarch behaves. If you
touch his exposed member, he will let you and everyone around
know his space has been invaded. Plutarch warbles and wails
when touched and he loves the attention.
STATEMENT: A PACKRAT'S PLAN FOR ART
1) Be a collector. I started very young and had trouble
with the Borough of Roselle Park, N.J. The place was an eclectic
mix of houses, farms, factories, railroad yards, a county dump
and a park. The dump was a few blocks from our house and was
a virtual mine of good stuff for a kid. The Borough set up a
trash collection service for the homeowners and to that end
hired an Italian farmer with a horse-drawn manure wagon to collect
the stuff. When the wagon was filled, he would haul the contents
to the dump. One day came a loud knock on our back door and
Mr. Adase, the Italian farmer, holds up a large metal pipe with
flexible metal hose attached and says to my mother, "Lady,
three times I haula away this hunka junk from your house and
I do it again but this is last time". Another time Mom
was walking the dog on the road past the dump and someone up
on the railroad track hollers "Hey kid, picking any chunk?'
Yep, it was me again.
2) See the hidden art in found objects. Once in Aspen, I saw
a knight welded up from old auto parts and that got me going.
I first studied blacksmithing and bought a coal-fired forge
to heat and bend metal. Next I learned gas and arc welding at
a vocational school in Boulder and began to inhabit junkyards
and auto wrecking yards to look for neat stuff. When I retired
and moved to Spokane I found the time to collect things and
begin putting art projects together. One of my favorites was
a pterodactyl made of steel plate, rebar, and part of a sewer
auger. Someone else must have liked it too because one night
persons unknown climbed up to the porch eaves and cut it down
with bolt cutters. Pictures of it were shown on local TV but
it never was found.
3) Be open and try new art forms. When Laura presented me with
two coils she wove on a loom and wondered what could be done
with them, I wondered too. After several measurements on a Q
meter and an impedance bridge, I had the answer. They could
be used in the tuned circuits of a Theremin. People like me,
who build electronic things from scratch, must be serious collectors
of components found at flea markets, garage sales, auctions,
estate sales, and going out of business sales. Just about all
the parts needed for Laura's Theremin came out of my junk box.
4) Be a collaborator. It is fun and rewarding to work with someone
on an art project because they bring different values and ideas
into the mix. One person does not have all the answers and really
needs another for input and help to bring things together. Artists
tend to be loners but some projects are so diverse and rely
on so many different skills and talents that collaboration may
be the only way to successful completion.
5) Think young. Old as I am, I try to understand the view point
of artists who are so much younger than I. They have ideas that
would never occur to me and at first I may unimpressed but then,
when I look more closely, I begin to get an inkling of what
they want to do and become enthusiastic and really excited about
their skill and the beauty of their art.
maccary AT earthlink.net