“We’re Bucket People Now”

March 2022. Wood, Buckets, Water, Vinyl Tubing, Water Pumps, 3D Printed Components, and Electrical Components. 20′ x 10′ x 5′

This piece is a meditation on mass. “We’re Bucket People Now” is a twenty foot wide teeter totter, framed in dimensional lumber and plywood with three five-gallon buckets on each side acting as shifting counterbalances. As the water moves from counterbalance to reservoirs, the sculpture lilts gently from side to side, taking almost an hour to complete a full cycle of movement. The staggered cycles of the counterbalances prevent sharp movement, but also acts as a momentum dampener so the piece is less responsive to external stimuli–acting like a large lumbering beast unfazed by smaller nuisance creatures.

Hundreds of pounds of mass are shifted using only tiny water pumps that are barely larger than a AA battery. I want the viewer to imagine that this concept could be scaled up to any size, because just a trickle of water is able to move just about anything.

My fondness for certain materials comes from a deep sentimentality–a loyalty and appreciation for materials that have served me well in the past. When a material behaves in a consistent and predictable enough manner time after time, its properties become imprinted in your way of thinking about design. Several pieces that I have worked on have required extensive framing with 2x4s. I will often find myself rooting through lumber at the hardware store, trying to find perfect pieces, much to the ire of everyone else there.

And for buckets, I cannot count the number that I have purchased over the years, but they always served as a means to an end, they were never a featured component. At best they were storage and more often they were a stopgap replacement for a more appropriate tool: a sawhorse, a step stool, or maybe a trash can.

The name of the sculpture came from a conversation with a friend. We were discussing the kernel of the idea for this project. Oftentimes when a viewer sees only a small selection of an artist’s work, assumptions crop up. Inferences are made and sometimes, even worse: monikers. I was lamenting the times I’ve been called “an LED guy”, “a Burning Man artist”, or any of the other small boxes I’ve found myself placed in previously. And in that moment, having used buckets in two projects within a span of a few months, I felt a bit of dread, and said to him, “I guess we’re bucket people now”.