Installation view of Comparative Anatomy of Angels.

The Comparative Anatomy of Angels is a series of small, kinetic sculptures with motor-driven string. In each piece, I experiment with different arrangements of string and look for a mechanism, or a behavior, that the material offers. I then amplify those behaviors into small colonies of activity.

UC Davis Today did a profile of my work, including a video about this series:

Details of each work:

The title of the series is borrowed from an imaginative, farcical scientific paper from 1825. Qfwfq, the title of each numbered piece in the series, is the main character from Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. My work has a similarly playful engagement with the scientific imagination. It uses the visual language of maps and diagrams and gives them material form, which lets the properties of the material guide the outcome of the piece. Rather than representing a certain living thing, the materials determine their own behavior and evoke “life”, broadly conceived. A variety of associations, from bacteria or muscle fibers to geological forces, are often found in the same piece.

They've raised questions for me about how we perceive lifelike movement, even in a kind of black-and-white line drawing, even with the mechanisms exposed. The scientific criteria for “living things” is a long list of somewhat arbitrary traits, suggesting that determining whether something is alive is subjective and therefore a judgment call. If that’s the case, what role does perception play?

Comparative Anatomy of Angels was also featured in the jjmwmnl: UC Davis MFA Thesis Exhibition 2015, with a review by Jamianessa Davis.