CM: Arthur Ganson is a renowned kinetic sculptor. He makes mechanical art demonstrations and Rube Goldberg machines with existential themes. Ganson has held residencies in science museums, collaborated with the Studebaker Movement Theatre, and been featured in one-man shows at MIT Museum, Harvard's Carpenter Center, the DeCordova Museum, and the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York. He has a permanent installation at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He was a MIT artist-in-residence and some of his work is on permanent display at the Gestural Engineering exhibit at MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Despite being referred to as a kinetic sculptor, Anisse Gross is perhaps right in thinking Ganson's machines are more like spiritual beings. The hand of the creator has given these machines a life of their own, what could perhaps be described as 'ghost in the machine'. In transcending their very 'machineness' Ganson's machines do nothing, but work extraordinarily well, particularly at making people laugh.
Ganson is not one who likes to talk a lot about art theory and history, but the influences of Swiss kinetic sculptor Jean Tinguely (1925-1991) and Bauhaus painter Paul Klee (1879-1940) are apparent. His works also recall Constructivism, Dada and Surrealism. Ganson's machines are a lot more than just clever gadgets. The art part comes in the way his mechanical gestures so intuitively and eloquently convey human feelings. Wriggling inchworms, mincing feather dusters, Kabuki-dancing miniature plastic swords. Ganson's work celebrates life with a sense of wonderment and humor that's all too rare in the self-important world of contemporary art.
This video documents 36 of Ganson's kinetic art machines, an animation machine sequences of three short comedies, a sequence showing how his wire gears are bent and soldered, and a few general scrolling text thoughts about the machines and the process. It is a straightforward documentation of the work, which provides overall views of the pieces as well as many close-ups. The audio is strictly the sound of the machines themselves, except for Machine with Chair, which is accompanied by a classical guitar piece, which the artist wrote and performed. The Machines included in this DVD are: Machine with Chinese Fan; Machine with Wishbone; Cory's Yellow Chair; Machine with Eggshells; Machine with Oil; Machine with Chair; Child Watching Ball; Machine with Fabric; Dododecapede; The Dream; Faster; Homage to Tinguely's "Homage a Marcel Duchamp"; Machine with Grease; Small Tower of 6 Gears; Meditation #1; Meditation #2; Meditation #3; Knife Throwing Machine; Machine with Featherduster; Machine with Housefly; Machine with Roller Chain; Machine with Cat Whiskers; Machine with Ball Chain; Brownian Rice; Machine with 23 Scraps of Paper; The Busi/ynessman; Machine with Concrete; Two Cans from the Island of Taiwan; Inchworms; Tinguely in Moscow; Machine with Artichoke Petal #1; Machine with Artichoke Petal #2; Margot's Other Cat; Untitled Fragile Machine; Another Housefly; Machine with Abandoned Doll; and Thinking Chair.