January 7, 2011

New Home for Circulus

Hair dresser to the stars and Portland Design Works honch, DPOW, has informed me that the mini velodrome known as Circulus has found a permanent home in Portland as PDW has purchased this infinite fun device.

What is Circulus?

Circulus was an installation designed and built by Sam Starr as his final project as a Fine Arts major at Pomona College in Los Angeles. The project took roughly two months to build and was on display for the first two weeks of May, 2010 on the Pomona campus inside Seeley Mudd Library.

Circulus from machine project on Vimeo.

here is the artist's statement:

Circulus is an installation and performance, a miniaturized bicycle track designed to fit inside the decommissioned Seeley G. Mudd Science Library. The track offers a circular trajectory for a cyclist to circulate the room once every five seconds. As a spectator and participant, I’ve often been mesmerized by the intense, aggressive movement of riders around these large, elegant ellipsoid structures. Circulus transforms the library into a velodrome, an arena that houses a bicycle track, juxtaposing the intense movement and noise of the bicycle and rider with the silent reverence implicit in the library space.
Like any athletic track, a velodrome is a strategic response to the problem of static spectatorship. As in Muybridge’s early photographic studies of equestrian gaits, the track allows a repeated cycle of movement to confront the viewer, translating the athlete’s linear, expansive trajectory into a contained cycle. The limits of spectatorship are imprinted in the track and embedded in the very shape of the sport: the cyclist must circle to fit within the building. In turn, the sport inscribes itself on the track. Velodromes distinguish themselves from other architectures by formalizing the suggestion of bodily trajectory. While the majority of our built environment is designed to withstand force along the gravitational axis, the track must also contend with the demands of the circulating body. The cyclist’s circular motion introduces a new inertial strain on the structure as an angular appendage to gravity. The ground plane is no longer enough to support the rider. Banked at 45 degrees, the track surface re-orients itself to this new bodily vector, defying classification as wall or floor.

Centrifugal: from the Latin centrum “center” and fugere “to flee”. The cyclist flees from the center like a satellite, held in orbit by the track surface. The track becomes a container for a centrifugal force-field—a radial architecture—that is fundamentally different from the gravitational architecture of the library. It also forms a bridge between the circulating rider and the static spectator, inviting the viewer to experience space through this spectacle of angular movement. By following the circulating rider, the viewer watches and feels a trajectory. Though the rider circles, it is the viewer that experiences dizziness; she is pulled into a world where lines no longer converge, where perspective is limited and fleeting, flat. Indeed, the horizon inside the track is obliterated, the floor becomes wall, the path doubles back around on itself.

Does this not evoke the habitable space of the printed word, the realm occupied by the mind as it reads, the two-dimensional reality of volumes? Even the architects of the Seeley Mudd Library assigned floorboards and carpet to vertical surfaces. I can remember leaving this library after hours of studying, dizzy from re-entering the third-dimension. Though the library encourages static quiet, it also accommodates a catatonic focus of study, where thoughts become a blur. “Movement is extensive; speed is intensive.” Though the rider rushes around the track, he goes nowhere. The viewer, the reader, standing still, move.

Sam Starr and Sara Kendall

All this hillbilly knows is that at some point in the coming year I'm going to drink beer and ride the crap out of that thing.


d*pow said...

Thanks for posting this Jeff. Golly, I hope Bike Snob comes to see it. Nothing is cool unless Bike Snob says it is. 'fingers crossed'

Tinj said...

That is unbelievable! I wish my school had a mini velodrome in the library. I can't believe they allowed him to do that and it's even cooler that it found a permanent home.

Anonymous said...

"it started out as... as just a desire to build a bike track inside of a gallery space"
who the fuck says bike track? why is he wearing an aero helmet?
bike snob will lay it out on him