2 Project Description
An artwork by Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum
It’s main component is a “phototropic car”, a small robotic rover that runs on solar energy, not unlike the carts used by NASA to explore the environments of distant planets. Except that this cart is designed to make observations of a distant body, the sun, in familiar settings, like a public square. It functions as a kind of sun-powered, mobile hour glass: the cart, tight to a pole with a longinsh rope, moves when its panels have collected a given amount of sunlight. And as it continously deposits sand, the cart leaves behind a patterned spiral trail.This spiral litterally reflects the sunrise: when the sun is still weak, the cart takes only small steps, but as the sun rises it slowly but surely makes bigger ones. But the pattern also reflects the peculiarities of the setting: some uneveness in the surface, the shade of tree, someone projecting her shadow, they will all leave their trace in the pattern. In this way “the setting” is loaded into the record which is all the more distinctive because of this.And one could say that, in doing so, Spiral Drawing Sunrise offers a site specific way of engaging in geo-metry. The word can be translated as earth-tracing, a way of measuring the earth in and as movement.
This is also how Spiral Drawing Sunrise can be used as a device for raising environmental awareness. In going its snail-like way in some place, the cart amplifies movements in the environment, and the changes it is going through: buses passing, traffic picking up, women with dogs passing by, and the sun slowly rising. As the robot cart goes its spiralling way, the environment ceases to be a static background, but turns out to be full of activity.