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exhibiting artists

ARTIST: Shannon Eakins

TITLE: Flock

artist's conceptual sketch for the piece

MATERIALS: Solar panels, feathers and electric motors

DIMENSIONS: 5 birds, each 14" x 6" x 9"

DATE: 2007

DESCRIPTION: A small flock of 5 kinetic bird sculptures. When active, the birds flap their wings and move their bodies vertically.

The wings of the birds are be made of solar panels and feathers. The body of each bird is a small gear motor that is powered by the solar panels. When the panels are activated by light, the motor will make the wings flap and thus, change position. The light may continue to hit the solar panels and continue the motion or, if the wings move out of the light, will stop the motion until the light changes. The bird's own motion will turn itself on and off as sunlight is available to it.

STATEMENT: Twitching, hissing, staring, lunging, breathing, and growling are what I explore when I make my work. I am attracted to various parts of animals, and the movements they make I make simple machines that mimic these movements. The machines are made of glass, metals, animal products, existing toys, and found objects. The machines, by design, do not run efficiently. Sometimes there are two forces in a machine working directly opposed to each other. As primitive contraptions, the machine's motions are slower than real time, rigid, and occasionally repetitive. Presented like this, the wildness is removed from the movement, but unpredictability remains.

For me, these works suggest translations. There are the more obvious translations; live model to animated replica, predator to prey, or mundane toy to impractical device. I also think of wild to domestic, instinct to conditioning, and species to specimen.

Recently, I have been exploring the sources of the energy that create these movements in the machines. Some of the machines are controlled by irregular battery circuits, others are completely dependant on human intervention, still some are meant to be dismembered and inserted into other machines. The reliability of a kinetic work on unreliable or erratic energy sources furthers my exploration of nature within the confinement of a machine.

Although anyone who knows anything about proper engineering cringes when they see what I make, I greatly enjoy experimenting with electricity.

Shannon Eakins
Tacoma, WA
shannoneakins AT


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