The great thing about art is that it doesn’t have to serve a purpose. When utility is irrelevant, the artist is free to express their creativity in whatever way they like. A painting doesn’t have to inspire introspection or revolution — it can just be something pretty to look at. In the same vein, Eirik Brandal’s Intermittent Luminal Phase kinetic sculpture is both gorgeous and useless.
Brandal started this project as an excuse to experiment with his new CNC router. Cutting gears seemed like a good way to do so, but he didn’t have a need for any mechanism that utilized them. That led him to the concept of a kinetic sculpture and Intermittent Luminal Phase is the result. It spins endlessly, making noise and blinking lights. But it is almost hypnotizing to see in action.
An Arduino Nano Every board controls two motors that spin a central input shaft, which turns all of the other gears. The gears aren’t perfect and produce a fair amount of vibration, but Brandal converted that bug into a feature. He added a piezo element that picks up the vibrations. Those are then amplified and pumped out through a speaker on the sculpture. The gears also have LEDs that make contact through DIY slip rings, so they light up at certain points in the rotation.
It may not serve a purpose, but Intermittent Luminal Phase is still mesmerizing and a great project for practicing fabrication techniques.