Monday, September 16, 2013

Artist Chris Fitch gives an in-depth explanation of the mechanics of his incredible swimming fish kinetic sculpture

Photo of fish sculpture

Artist Chris Fitch took the time to of put together a video in which he explains the mechanics of his limited edition piece titled, Tantalus Mackerel. I don't need to say much more here, because his explanation is so good.

As for the piece, here is what Chris Fitch as to say about it:

The story of Tantalus has been, since its Greek origins, a consistently applicable metaphor for the human condition. Tantalus angered the gods by trying to feed them the flesh of his own son, passed off as ambrosia. For this, he was chained to the bottom of a lake that reached to his chin. With luscious grapes drooping from vines above his nose, starving Tantalus was unable to enjoy either food or drink, as they were pulled away whenever he reached. I won't go on about how I think this relates to American culture today, which suffers from a kind of self-inflicted hunger from unrealistic expectations. Nor will I attempt to make any connection between the story of Tantalus and our current global problem with mercury levels in deep sea fish, and how we are our own gods and are punished by our own actions when we poison our own food supply. Let me just say, instead, that this piece is about a frustrated fish trying to catch a bug.

It's an incredible piece in every way: the narrative, the artistry, the mechanics. He only made three of these beauties, and (as of this writing) one is still available. For more videos and photos of sculptures by Chris Fitch, visit

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Blogger Alex Vernon said...

Excellent video. I really like the use of the bead chains on sprocket pulleys. Are those sprockets something that can be easily handmade, or would you need to 3D print/order from industrial wholesaler?

September 16, 2013 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Dug North said...

Chris Fitch said this of the bead chain:

"I made my own sprockets for this piece. That said, I can't really recommend it, since the industry standards for pitch are not reliably consistent. Also, the softer alloys stretch over time, and the stainless steel chain does not come in every pitch. It has been a bit of a headache."

I have seen a similar system used for window blinds. That might be a source to look into.


September 16, 2013 at 10:32 AM  

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