Photos and Video by Johansson Projects
San Francisco-based artist Dan Grayber's work consists of intricate studies in architecture, mechanics, tension, and space. For most part, the beautiful little devices are utterly devoid of purpose, aside from the simple task of holding themselves up, and that's the point.
"Objects are invented in order to satisfy particular needs, specifically, human needs. With my sculpture I investigate the concept of need when the human is removed from this equation. I do this by replacing the human with the object itself. My sculptures are invented only to sustain themselves, functioning as self-resolving problems. The result is an object that has been invented only to compensate for the complications created by its own existence. The piece alone represents the need and the resolution."
They are more like booby traps—their only spatial purpose to support themselves in states of high tension—or re-tuned Vitruvian readymades sealed in glass.
Grayber's Cavity Mechanism #6 w/ Glass Dome, "is a pair of spring loaded mechanisms that wedge themselves into the inside of a cavity (the glass dome in this case), suspending themselves. Cable running between pair maintains tension on both mechanisms. If cable were to fail, both mechanisms would fall."
According to the gallery, "Dan Grayber isolates machinery from its usual role of fulfilling human needs through placing it in an eternal mode of self-perpetuation. His safety-orange powder coated objects endlessly assure their survival through completing the simple and essential task of holding oneself up. These sculptures, which create problems as they solve them, exude a sovereign elegance, the dignity of not having to justify themselves to an outside source."
Installed directly on a concrete wall, Column Mechanism #1 "consists of central tensioning mechanisms and eight 'satellite' contact objects, in pairs. Tension created from central mechanism is run through pulleys on each pair of 'satellite' objects, pulling them together, creating tension that squeezes column and supports central piece."
Similarly, the "centrally located springs" of Drywall Mechanism #2 "use bicycle brake lines to carry tension of springs to the outer mechanisms. Outer mechanisms have points that when tensioned simultaneously gently dig into wall surface."