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It Came from the Vault: Rarely Seen Works from MAG’s Collection

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Double Level Diffraction

47 x 24 x 17 in. (119.4 x 61 x 43.2 cm)

Wen Ying Tsai
American (Armory, China, 1928 - 2013, New York, NY)

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Stainless steel
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David W. Bermant
Accession Number: 1978.73a
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Wen Ying Tsai was trained as both an engineer and an artist and his cybernetic sculptures are a fusion of technology and aesthetics. The stainless steel rods, topped with round optical devices, are wired to vibrate at a constant rate. They are subjected to a flashing strobe light that is triggered by ambient sound, such as a voice or a hand clap. When the frequency of the flash matches that of the rods’ vibration, the sculpture appears stationary. As the rate of flash is changed, the effect alters from a slow and undulating motion to an agitated one.

Unfortunately, "Double Level Diffraction" malfunctioned shortly after it was presented to MAG. The highly delicate nature of the mechanism has defied even the artist’s attempts to repair it.

[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]

This sculpture was commissioned especially for the Gallery.

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013


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