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Visual Display of Quantitative Information
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Seeing with Fresh Eyes:
Meaning, Space, Data, Truth
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Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander)

We recently installed my new sculpture Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander) at the
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut in preparation for my
show, Seeing Around, June 13, 2009 to January 17, 2010. The piece is in the style of
Home-Brew High Industrial Fruitcake. It is 70 feet or 21 meters long, and 35 feet or
11 meters high. The installation was carried out by my staff and by United Concrete
(Yalesville, CT), who also constructed the piece.

Below, Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander) during construction and installation.

This video is also available on YouTube and Vimeo

-- Edward Tufte


We use both generalist riggers and sculpture specialists. Both types do fine. Rigging large complex objects is rigging large complex objects, whether septic tanks or sculpture.

Sculpture specialists are more expensive. To have sufficient business, they need to serve several states (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts). Because some of these states are strong union states, the workers must be union members and bill at union rates in all the states.

Lots of riggers are looking for work these days, thus reducing the rates of non-union generalist riggers. The result is that the fees of unionized sculpture specialists run about twice those of non-union generalists. There are also sometimes significant attitudinal differences between the two types.

Nonetheless, for particularly difficult local jobs in Connecticut, such as installing and de-installing a piece hung from a museum ceiling, we rely on sculpture specialists. Otherwise we prefer the cheerier generalists, who might do a one-day outdoor installation of a single artwork for $2000 compared to a specialist price of $4000.

In the worlds of museums and of landscape sculpture, that $2000 differential for one day for one piece is a large amount. That's because museums have little money. And because, as Richard Serra may have said, "the market for large abstract outdoor sculpture is like the market for Canadian experimental poetry."

On installation and rigging (from my essay Seeing Around):

Big artworks are big deals to install; outdoor pieces often outweigh humans by hundreds-fold. Steelworkers, riggers, operators--who do the heavy lifting and putting together--engage in a complex and sometimes dangerous craft. Like sculptors, they move big metal to precise 3D locations, work against gravity, closely attend to rigging operations, and appreciate the sheer physicality of large artworks. Landscape installations are challenging and notable, and everyone involved usually comes away with a good story.

-- 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 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
Tong Bird of Paradise
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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