John Grade's <i>Capacitor</i> responds to weather conditions and mimics a microscopic life form in its design.
John Grade's installation Capacitor brings the weather inside—kind of. You won't find yourself having to embrace the elements indoors but his piece, which features at the Uncommon Ground exhibition at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is a giant responsive coil that changes depending on what's going on outside.
Grade's work is often concerned with the idea of change but with this piece the artists says, "I was interested in gaging something that was going on with the weather and bringing it into the gallery so that people could experience it viscerally and on a different time scale."
The kinetic sculpture translates what's happening with the weather into a five to ten minute experience. Weather sensors placed on the roof of the center feed back to the coil, causing it to move and shift in response to wind direction and change luminosity in response to changes in temperature.
The current weather is contrasted with historical records to produce these results: "Grade’s team calculated and keyed statistical means based on Sheboygan’s weather patterns over the past one hundred years into a mechanized controller. The degree to which the current wind and temperature patterns differ from the established means determines the brightness and movement of the one hundred sculptural components." states the museum's website.
The design of the coil is inspired by a microscopic marine plant called coccolithophore, with each flute representing an individual organism—as these brighten or dim and shift around the sculpture will look like its alive. “The whole of the sculpture will appear to be very slowly breathing.” says the artist.