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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Arthur Ganson

  • On April 9, 2008

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Arthur Ganson has been a great inspiration to me. His artistic and engineering skill is articulated with great humour and weightlessness. I just thought I’d put a few videos I found online up here but I recommend the DVD if you really want to see the detail in his work.

Self-described as a cross between a mechanical engineer and a choreographer, Arthur Ganson creates contraptions composed of a range of materials from delicate wire to welded steel and concrete. Most are viewer-activated or driven by electric motors. All are driven by a wry sense of humor or a probing philosophical concept.

    “When making a sculpture,” Ganson says, “It’s always a challenge to say enough but not say too much, to coax with some kind of recognizable bait, then leave the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions and thereby find personal meaning.”

Moving objects are playfully linked by intention and subject in A Child and a Ball, which entails an active child mesmerized by a moving ball. In Machine with Wishbone, a real chicken wishbone pulls the very mechanism responsible for its movement. Another sculpture writes the word “Faster” as it is pushed. Other works explore the nature of oiled surfaces, object manipulation, slow explosions, and the organic implications of slow moving roller chain.

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In a profile of Ganson in Smithsonian Magazine, David Sims described the sculptor’s work as “retrotechnology with a nineteenth-century quality…. No lasers, no subminiaturized computer wizardry. What you see is what you get,” and, Sims added, ‘People generally get what they see because there are so many different points of entry, an end result of the playful Ganson mind….Kids love Machine with Wishbone because it’s funny, odd, and ingenious. Many adults, on the other hand, see pathos and tragedy as the enslaved little bone drags the clanking contraption behind it. Rube Goldberg meets Jean-Paul Sartre.”


  1. Veronica

    I saw his exhibit at the MIT Museum and was enthralled.

  2. i just saw your work on, and I absolutely love it, there is a beautiful poetry of mechanical movements…which i found fascinating….

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