First inspired by the mysterious and mathematical qualities of a caterpillar’s crawl, artist Reuben Margolin creates large-scale kinetic sculptures that use pulleys and motors to create the complex movements and structures we see in nature. Margolin takes to the PopTech stage to share some of his extraordinary mechanical installations.
As a child, he started playing with stilts and was enamored with math. After going in a few different directions in school, he set out with a typewriter strapped to the back of a motorcycle to write poetry as he traveled across the country. This resulted in the creation of a mobile, which he drove for five months in order to have deep, meaningful conversations with people he met along the way.
Soon after, on a hike, he saw a transparent caterpillar that inspired him to try and replicate it as a machine. Although the finished product didn’t move as elegantly as a caterpillar in nature, it fueled his interest in examining movement in the natural world. Still seeking a way to perfectly capture the wave of a caterpillar’s motion, he demonstrated on the PopTech stage a much sleeker machine made of wood, thin rope and metal that did indeed undulate like caterpillar creeping. He’s now exploring applying this principal to giant circles, wooden frames and other forms.
Margolin ended his presentation by revealing a gorgeous, sparkling sculpture suspended from the Opera House Ceiling, which swung gently above the crowd as though wind was blowing through a giant, gilded glass net.
Margolin noted that there are two ways of looking at things: one is at the sparkle and the dawns and the beauty of the world, and one is at the structure and the meat and the math. His art brings both of these elements together in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and intellectually interesting.