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A Circle of Friends Discuss James Clerk Maxwell

Mark Esper
Electric circuits, infrared sensors, electromagnets, permanent magnets, acrylic and polycarbonate plastics, wood, floodlight, Bondo, fish line, nails

This project is an exercise in self-organizing form. It was a test bed for a much larger work now also realized. Set in a circle, there are twelve pendulums, each containing a permanent magnet. When a pendulum is directly above its circuit, which includes a sensor and an electromagnet, the electromagnet is energized. Because the resulting magnetic field has the same polarity as the magnet in the pendulum, the pendulum gets a little push. This is what keeps the pendulums moving. The magnetic polarity of all the pendulums is the same. Therefore, as they move about, the pendulums have effect on each other through mutual repulsion. The patterns of movement result from the interaction of the momentum of the pendulums and their magnetic repulsion. The movements of the pendulums are not random, but fall into self-organized patterns that constantly change

James Clerk Maxwell's discoveries made in the mid nineteenth century concerning the electromagnetic force, the propagation of light through space, and thermodynamics forms the bedrock of much of the science and technology developed since then. Our present world is in this way Maxwellian.

A Circle of Friends Discuss James Clerk Maxwell both illustrates and celebrates these findings, pointing to a new understanding of our nature.

A Circle of Friends Discuss James Clerk Maxwell is mesmerizing to watch. It has a calming effect.

Mark Esper was born in 1947 in Michigan, U.S.A. He attended Eastern Michigan University from 1965 - 1972, receiving a B.F.A. in sculpture. He makes a living as technical assistant to other artists, mainly Dennis Oppenheim.

Esper develops projects involving electronic circuits and mechanical devices. These are his attempts to explore and render the connections between the human condition, that is, soul or psyche, and physical reality. His projects most often convey their content in what they do rather than in what they look like. They are in this way experiential rather than static, a bit like performance art. Sometimes the performance involves music that is unpredictable and self-organizing, or is interactive with the viewer.

Esper observes that what is thought of as spiritual and physical domains are not separate realities. The poetry that can be found in the connection between the plastic arts and science is his arena of interest. How and why electrons would dance on the head of a pin has more meaning, even more poetic meaning than any discussion about angels.

Artists and scientists both seek truth, and in doing so, discover new mysteries. Science relies mostly on reductive thinking. Artists live more in the realm of inspiration. Esper looks for the poetry that can be found on the arc between the two.

email: mesper at panix dot com

Acknowledgements: ???

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