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Sympathetic Resonance, photo by John Minchill

By Kendall Tichner

Mana Contemporary is excited to be housing Joshua Kirsch’s interactive pieces Sympathetic Resonance and Oculus. Kirsch is a locally based sculptor whose work can be appreciated by everyone from engineers to musicians. He creates interactive pieces with moving parts and a robotic nature using raw materials, including aluminum, steel, brass, wires and hard wood. Kirsch fabricates intricate structures, often combining these raw materials with LED lights and visible circuitry. His creations are mechanical yet somehow manage to appear delicate and biomimetic. Very often they are interactive which leads to a unique experience for each viewer.

Kirsch says the root of his inspiration is to create work that he would be thrilled to discover. “We see signs at the museum that say ‘don’t touch’ or ‘stay behind the line,’ but that separation keeps people from really enjoying art,” he says. “I create work that I myself find fun.”

Kirsch’s piece, Sympathetic Resonance, takes many forms; Kirsch installs it to morph to its surroundings. The sculpture is entirely site specific. Sympathetic Resonance can be described as a piano with its guts ripped out. Kirsch explodes the piano’s innards and systematically places them about the room to create a encircling sculpture that is both visibly and audibly pleasing. I asked Kirsch how the idea for this piece came about and he simply stated,

“I dropped a piece of wood on the floor and it made a enjoyable note… and that planted the seed for the whole thing”.

Sympathetic Resonance is made out of African padauk, birch veneer plywood, aluminum, yarn mallets, rotary solenoids, brass, wires, magnets, bootlace, and electronic components. The viewer is invited to stand at the control panel, which takes the form of an aluminum keyboard, and play. Each key hit sends a jolt through an aesthetically pleasing red wire, which triggers a distant mallet to hit a wooden marimba key and produce a pleasant hollow sound. Each of the 56 modules contains a different note, as well as a marimba mallet affixed to a rotary solenoid.

Oculus features 18 metal rods that are spaced equidistant and connected at a central hub. The wheel-like structure is mounted on the wall and has several underlying linear limbs and joints. The viewer is invited to grab the center of the sculpture like a steering wheel and move it in any direction. The movement causes the 18 limbs to synchronously shift and twist in different directions. The sculpture is an enigma because it manages to have a fluid, lifelike motion that is in direct opposition to its steel skeletal nature.

Symphonic Sessions Contest:

Mana Contemporary has combined forces with Artists Wanted to create Symphonic Sessions, a groundbreaking contest. Artist Wanted is a Brooklyn based organization that spots emerging artists and offers them various forms of support and exposure. Sympathetic Resonance is going to be installed mid-February and musicians of any genre are invited to schedule a time to come into Mana Contemporary and engulf themselves in the spindly instrument and make music.

Mana Contemporary will be setting up premium recording equipment, for both visual and audio components. Once recorded, the musician can upload the piece directly onto Artists Wanted Page. Once entered, the musician has a chance to win a conglomeration of wonderful prizes and will get plenty of exposure. Keep checking both Mana Contemporary and Artists Wanted’s social media for new footage, and schedule your time to come in and test it out.