Bussola Mechanical Skeletel Sculpture

Posted: March 19, 2015

While artist Jennifer Townley's Bussola is intricate and enamoring enough that I could probably watch it move all day long, for some reason watching it at all brings great uneasiness to my heart. Maybe it's the lumbering, unchanging pace at which its wood spines turn. Like death coming for me slowly, but continuously. Inescapably. Maybe it's that the spines themselves look like a distorted human skeleton rotating and bending and getting even more distorted in ways that human skeletons should not be rotating, bending, and distorting. Maybe it's that it reminds me of the bone organ Andy had to play to get the gang past another of One-Eyed Willy's obstacles in The Goonies. That scene was so nerve wracking! What if the floor had collapsed and they all died? Especially Andy, who was so hot!

But agitating or not, there's no doubt the Bussola represents a masterpiece of sculpting and mechanics. Townley certinaly has some legitimate artistic chops. She named her piece after the Italian word for "compass," gleaning inspiration for its coming to be from a 1514 Leonardo da Vinci design for a similar creation, intended to be a drawing tool. Townley's machine combines the whitened wood, metal, an electric motor, and mechanical parts into a 3D machine that works in the same way as the original compass.

Bussola consists of 4 hinged parts, converting a vertical movement at the bottom hinge into a horizontal movement on the two upper legs. Its movement is driven by a camshaft so that all of the elements move in the same way, but at slightly different positions.

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