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Tong Bird of Paradise

ET steel artwork, January 2008.

-- Edward Tufte

Two more pieces in the series, Tong Bird #2 and the mobile Tong Bird #3:

-- Edward Tufte

Tong Birds

Yes, #1 and #2 are from the same tong, disassembled.
The original tong was awkward in proportion
but what beautiful lines in the separate elements.

-- ET

Old metal, junk, scrap

Here's David Smith on old metal objects:

"There is something rather noble about junk--selected junk--
junk which has in one era performed nobly in function for common man
has by function been formed by the smithy's hand alone
and without bearings roll or bell
has fulfilled its function, stayed behind,
is not yet relic or antique or precious
which has been seen by the eyes of all men and left for me--
to be found as the cracks in sidewalks
as the grain in wood
as the drops in grass
out of a snow hummock
as the dent in mud from
a bucket of poured storms
as the clouds float and
as beauties come
to be used, for an order
to be arranged
to be now perceived
by new ownership."

From David Smith by David Smith (1968), p. 152.

-- ET

Here is Tong Bird of Paradise #4. This new piece is about 10 feet tall.
We did a test installation a few of days ago. This will be in our Aldrich show,
although we hope to make another Tong Bird 18 feet tall.

-- Edward Tufte

Old tools, scrap, and their consequences

I like scrap metal--selected scrap metal--because it is different,
new, intriguing, available, inexpensive. It refreshes my vocabulary
for making artworks. It is nostalgic when scrap, but not so in artwork.

One initial element, the tong, then led to making and combining
the other 3 elements to construct my Tong Bird of Paradise.
These 3 additional elements are linear and ragged, in contrast
with the smooth 3D curves of the tong.

-- ET

Tong Bird of Paradise in Seeing Around

I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures, illustrations, and information about the Tong Bird of Paradise series included in Seeing Around. The photo on the bottom of page 29 is especially intriguing; Buddha appears to be looking on in serene approval, while the fish has an almost excited appearance—as if he's saying work on me next!

-- Adam Newbold (email)

It is difficult to convey how much time-spent-living-with-them goes into these. A year on average, with a lot of pieces and a lot of years overlapping at any one time. I saw a number of pieces in various stages of development while I was there. I think this is the first one to come to fruition that I also witnessed in an early embryonic stage. Wake up, there it is. Eat breakfast, talk with the guys, check in on Graphics Press, walk out to the shop, and there it is. Some time the next day . . . there it is. Three weeks later, maybe we should scale that one up. How's do these three look relative to each other, against the ground. Against the sky. Let's wait until it rains. Let's make a cardboard mockup. Let's visit the scrap dealer, MoMA, the flea market. There's this abstract forging of an idea that was not obviously separated from the testing of that idea's expression in the world.

-- Niels Olson (email)

Outdoor abstract sculptures reside with the land and its residents:
trees, grass, flowers, insects, birds, animals. In turn, artworks affect
the behavioral space (in the art jargon) of birds and animals that
move, play, pose, and interact in a field of artworks.

Walking down to the sculpture field, I saw a hawk perched on the
big Tong Bird of Paradise. The hawk patiently waited while I ran back
to the studio to get my camera and then posed for about 10 minutes
before flying off.

-- ET

We moved the big (20 feet, 6.1 meters tall) Tong Bird of Paradise to a small valley near our pond.

To check the verticality of big Tong Bird the crane's wire line is used as a plumb line (which is vertical and goes through the center of the Earth). Here are two images of this method in action:

A week later a hawk perched on the repositioned Tong Bird of Paradise. It is probably (p = .87) the same hawk we saw earlier. The light during the two different photographed visits differed greatly (sunset v. high noon), so we think it is the same hawk, different light.

-- Edward Tufte

Just a note re the hawks: the birds in the photos are two different types of hawks. The reddish breast on one looks like a red tailed hawk. The other one has a distinctly differently patterned belly and chest, most likely a red shouldered hawk. Unlikely that they are the same bird, a week apart. There's Visual Evidence.

-- A. Ziner (email)

Hawk difference

Yes, you're right.

-- ET

Still another hawk, the rare New England "Iron Hawk" (Buteo ferrous), visited the large Tong Bird of Paradise:

Buteo ferrous is a new piece, made from tool steel:

-- Edward Tufte

A Bird of Paradise by Pierre-Joseph Redouté:

-- Edward Tufte

Birds photographed

Bird of Paradise flowers in our studio. Photographs by Andrei Severny.

-- Edward Tufte

Tong Bird during winter storm

Big Tong Bird with a couple of the Millstone pieces:

-- Edward Tufte

Threads relevant to sculpture:
Ace and Porta do multimedia
Bird Series
Aluminum and stainless steel; many, many pieces moving in the air.
Bouquet sculpture series--and Walking, Seeing, Constructing
Beginning of Bouquet series (now 7); along with theoretical statement beginning the volume 5 project.
Buddha with Bird Nest: sculpture
Complex sculptural shapes
Dear Leader I: landscape sculpture May 2006
Narrative piece about some mysterious porcelain objects in a stainless steel perspective box.
Dog sculpture (Porta the Portuguese Water Dog)
ET Modern
ET museum/gallery in the Chelsea Art District in New York 2010-2013.
ET show at George Champion Modern Shop
ET gallery show in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Escaping Flatland sculptures
Ten large stainless steel pieces in the landscape generate many views and painted color fields as the sun moves across the sky and the season changes.
Feynman Diagrams, Edward Tufte sculptures and exhibits
The Conceptual and Cognitive Art of Feynman Diagrams. Art show + 16 page essay.
Flame Theater
Georgia O'Keeffe and Escaping Flatland
Hogpen Hill #1: sculpture installed August 2006
First major piece (24 feet light, stainless steel) installed in new 122 acre sculpture park underway in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Ironstone artworks, torqued steel
Magritte's Smile
Masks Quartet, 2011
bronze casting
Megaliths, Continuous and Silent, Stuctures of Unknown Significance
Stone+air artworks. Scuplture, megaliths
Millstone sculpture series
Massive industrial pieces sorting out circles and light. Redesigning and repurposing scrap from nuclear power plant.
Multiplicity in visual experiences (ET presentation for a museum show)

Nine reviews of ET's Aldrich Museum sculpture show
ET museum show in Connecticut 2009-2010
Paradox sculptures
Petals 1-3
Aluminum hyperbolic paraboloids in the landscape reflect light and shadow. The pieces move with the contour of the land.
Philosophical Diamond Signs
Philosophical alerts, imperatives, and thoughts about the path past and future.
Rocket Science
~32 feet (10 m) high and ~72 feet (22 m) long, and is constructed from ~48,000 pounds (22,000 kg) of rusting scrap steel
Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander)
Rocket Science 3: Airstream Interplanetary Explorer
Sculpture Forgings
Steel forging mounted on wood base. Blacksmithing video.
Sculpture: Negative space studies
Three table pieces; strong positive elements create active negative volumes (the air) to torque. Movies.
Seeing Around: New ET essay published
Skewed Machine
Spring Arcs, an ET landscape sculpture
Four solid stainless steel arcs in the landscape. Long thread, many photographs on meaning, construction, viewing of the piece.
Stainless steel images: anisotropic calligraphy
Big series of engraved 3D anisomorphic images that move with light.
Steel sculptures
Rough, thick, rusting steel, with surface images in the steel's patina.
Table sculptures
About a dozen major table pieces in wood, steel, stainless steel.
The Drawing Center fax show: ET exhibits
The Twigs: Landscape artworks made from steel and air
The beautiful Twig. Steel, 32 feet high, with accompanying thread on reading the piece and the complexities of modeling large 3D objects.
Theater Museum artworks
Towers: a new memorial for 9/11
Visual complexities of light, shadow, perpsective. Perforated stainless steel.
ZZ Smile (Zerlina's Smile)

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