The Todd Wall

In September 2007 our good friend and colleague, Todd Blair suffered a traumatic brain injury during a Survival Research Show at the Robodock Festival in Amsterdam. During his recovery there have been many benefits for Todd and his wife Alexandra to help them defray the considerable medical and cost of living charges

On July 20th 2008 North Pitney and I participated in the Todd Wall benefit. Each contributor was handed a freshly machined gear with license to populate it with anything we desired. The gears were then assembled on a large wall at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda.

We designed our gear around one of Todd's favorite materials, Ferro Fluid. North ordered some on-line and we began playing around with it to see what kind of behavior we could get. North discovered an interesting motion that caused the Ferro Fluid to wobble and distort.




To get this behavior the mechanism we designed needed to rotate independently from the other gears. We wanted movement that would be subject to random forces that were not present in simple rotation. Rare earth magnets were used on the gear and the Ferro Fluid mechanism. They were aligned so they repelled each other. As the gear turned the mechanism would sometimes be pushed along by repulsion other times it would stall. This was due to the irregular placement of the magnets.

This system produced erratic behavior either flailing against or rhythmically pulsing with the rotation of the gears. The handle added an "interactive" element as well.



The benefit was a complete success as the fund raising goals were exceeded. People had a great time. And an amazing work of art was created.The Wall is viewable at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda. It can also be purchased with all proceeds going to Todd and Alex.

Todd Blog
Rhythmix Cultural Works