Michael Flynn's interactive art installation at the 2010 Ann Arbor Film Festival. The antique cartoon projected onto a curved, translucent photograph showing the stage of the historic Michigan Theater- annual host of the Ann Arbor Film Festival for 48 years.
The Ferrofluid Magnetoscope allows cooperatively-interactive control of a levitating liquid sculpture via a pair of magnet positioning handwheels. Those captivated by this enigmatic spectacle become "Curiosity-Driven" to understand how it works- even though the explanation involves physics and chemistry from nanoscale materials science.
A 12 foot beam floats, suspended in the air, a stainless steel tether its only attachment to the ground. Then without notice or warning the beam comes crashing down. An individual is employed to labor the beam back to its position in the air. The damage to the floor and the beam physically attest to the psychological ravages; the ups and downs of finding and losing faith. There are times I lose faith is a performative sculpture that uses physical phenomena as metaphor to speak to both the magical situation that is faith (here by manipulating magnetism and defying gravity) and the consequence of its failure. The sculpture is abstracted to allow its minimalistic shape to speak more to its visceral action than to any particularities of form. As such the piece addresses the magic and failure of that leap of belief, in God, in the spiritual, in leaders or governments, in corporations, and in love… and the consequences of its failings and ultimately the labor required to reestablish it.
The project setup is as follows:
A metallic pyramid (reminiscent of the masonic, Eye of Providence) is suspended from the ceiling. A large 12ft metal beam hangs suspended in the air, roughly 5 inches below the bottom of the pyramid. The beam is tethered to a wood platform at ground level via a thin metal wire.
The pyramid houses a permanent rare earth magnet that is wound with magnetic wire to create a reversed polarity electromagnet that negates the pull of the permanent magnet. A wire leads to a flight pack box that houses the trigger mechanism. The trigger mechanism is modeled on trigger systems used to activate remote bombs; a burner (throw away) phone is used switch on a high voltage electronic relay, that activates the electromagnet releasing the beam from magnetism's suspension and into gravities grip. The beam which weighs approximately 100lbs crashes onto the platform.
The event is triggered via a phone call. The phone call is initiated in three manners; a phone call from the Artist, a phone call via computer that is tracking various data and uses a triggering algorithm, and thirdly a phone call from random persons who discovered the phone number posted around the city via flyers and scribbled in public bathroom stalls, simply with the title "There are times I lose faith" and accompanying telephone number (no explanation is provided to what the call does or is for). The artist has purposely left the reasoning of the calls opaque, the project is not a data visualization but rather a visceral metaphor.
An individual or individuals are employed at the exhibition space to lift the beam back into space, their labor a symbolic gesture on the difficulty of regaining the trust of belief and faith.
Once back up the cycle is set back in motion, the magically floating beam crashes unexpectedly (this could be soon or even a day or days later) and is labored back into its suspended state, the ravages of this tribulation marked through the compounded damages to both beam and platform.