Electronic Sculpture Archive
Bruce Cannon

This site is an archive of my older interactive,  electronic and computer-controlled sculpture.  You can always find out about my latest projects via my gateway, brucecannon.com.


Ball and Chain (1994); click for an enlargementBall and Chain (1994)

Ship's lantern, manacle, electronics;
14x14x24"; 20lbs.

Status: available

This sculpture examines fixed duration as a metaphor for terminal disease.  It consists of a computer suspended in a steel cage, bolted to the wall.

The piece counts the days since its inception by incrementing a mechanical counter, visible on the outside of the cage in the image on the left.  Internally, the piece counts backwards from it's known maximum life span of fifteen years.  When a viewer casts a shadow over the piece, it displays a message on a small green LED display about its remaining time, such as "I have 2978 days to live," in this manner counting down the time until its demise.

Ball and Chain detail; click for an enlargementThe computer is powered by wall current and, when unplugged as for moving or shipping, can run for a week or so on an internal battery.  Its control program is written such that if allowed to stop, it cannot be restarted.  If properly maintained, the piece will run for fifteen years.

At some point, however, the piece will cease to count or display but should not be thought of as broken.  It will be from that point on a static sculpture and, by virtue of the number frozen on its mechanical counter, the manifestation or proof of its conceptual project; its own epitaph.

Ball and Chain rests on the floor, or a low platform (3" or so), and its manacle bracket is screwed to the wall.  Requires continuous 120v power.


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