Location: Jacksonville, OR, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $9,000
Russ Eckert, Machinist
Kaleidoscopes and teleidoscopes are a place where art and science come together. With precision workmanship, they become a wonder of fascinating geometry and beautiful radial symmetry. A large diameter viewing end allows seeing through it with both eyes open, giving extra depth perception to the imagery. With an i-phone or camera attached, anything it is aimed toward becomes a unique personal creation of fun and wonder that’s sharable on social media.
The goal was to integrate an interactive arts experience for the patients and their family members of a children's hospital. The challenge was to provide a large interactive teleidoscope retrofitted with a swiveling mechanism, allowing it to spin internally, rotate horizontally and tilt vertically at the same time.
The art consultant firm, artist, and client worked together to create an inviting environmental experience for hospital visitors. The teleidoscope became the art centerpiece that transformed an institutional atmosphere into one of whimsy and wonder. This oversize teleidoscope was originally built as a simple and portable means to produce kaleidoscopic videos and photos. After I was commissioned by Aesthetics Inc. in San Diego, I began exploring many alternative options to mount it for this project. I realized I couldn't improve much on an elaborate swivel design I had created for a different scope many years earlier. This required the skilled services of a local machinist with a huge metal lathe capable of turning the inside and outside of the 6" stainless steel pipe. Adding a larger brass ring and an adjustable means of limiting vertical motion for safety were new features.
The imagery viewed through the scope is entirely clear and real. It's created by light reflected off precisely aligned front surface mirrors and a huge 6" spherical Austrian crystal lens that gathers ambient light, flips the wide angle imagery and automatically focuses everything near and far with infinite depth of field. Materials used are copper, brass, stainless steel, aluminum and steel tubing. Without recent technological advances in laser cutting for the mirrors, the precision necessary to create such imagery at this large scale would have been near impossible.