The Way Things Go

For our first assignment we had to work in a group of around ten to get a marble or ping pong ball to move 3 foot using various materials. This project was inspired by Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s collaborative project ‘The way things go’ or in German ‘Der Laufder Dinge’ from 1987. The artists harnessed the energy of twisted cord and a bin bag to initiate an entire sequence of objects to move, burn and react with each other.

I think this was an appropriate task for our second day in college as it forced us to interact and get to know each other as well as see what ourselves and other people could bring to the group. In the same way the Fischli and Weiss did we collaborated with other artists.

It was a daunting task to begin with especially when working with new people and not knowing who was comfortable with what role. A few of us tried kicking things off and so we got started.

We decided to begin by gathering materials as this seemed like a sensible place to start and also in case the best stuff was taken by other groups. Each person who had found an item had come up with an at least vague idea of what we could use it for and so this helped us form a rough outline of our structure. Then there was the list of criteria that had to be covered such as the marble or ping pong ball turning left and right, making  a mark, making a noise, change of speed and going up; half of us discussed this and how we could incorporate these things whilst the other researched other artists who had also done similar work. We managed to get the marble to go up by creating such a powerful down motion by rolling it through a diagonally placed tube that it could go up a slope, the sound from it dropping into a tin like material and the turns by using a round plastic casing to guide the ball

As we neared completion and with most the criteria met we decided we wanted to make it more interesting.  One group member who had been researching had come across a YouTube video where they had done a similar thing using the vibrations of a mobile phone. We thought this would be a great way to start of the process as it meant the movement of the ball could be initiated without us touching it at all. Unfortunately though it didn’t see to work with the phones we had as it is the older models that tend to vibrate hard enough to cause that much movement.

Another thing we tried which worked during our practice runs was to have the marble go through a plastic casing we had found then just as it comes out have it stopped by hitting into a cardboard tunnel. Inside this tunnel was the ping pong ball which after the cardboard was hit by the marble was nudged and the rolled into a plastic tray. The idea was that the marble would go in and the ping pong ball would come out without people seeing the change over making it more interesting to watch. Also for the making a mark part of the task the ping pong ball was covered in paint which then splattered onto a piece of paper in the tray.

In hindsight if we had each had a more specific piece of the criteria to work on each then perhaps our structure could have been more elaborate. There were members of the group who were a lot more withdrawn and less comfortable getting stuck in and despite our efforts to include them didn’t seem interested. Perhaps if we all felt more comfortable this wouldn’t have been the case. After seeing the structures made by other groups we also realised how small and restricted we had made it. This could have been due to our workspace and the fact it was slightly smaller making us think smaller with our project. We could have also used a better range of materials in order to make it more interesting.

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