San Francisco

Charles Mattox

Lanyon Gallery

Tread on the electrical button and Mattox’s mechanical constructions stir into motion. Drive cranks and elbow and hinge frames are strung with wires to produce shimmering and changing moire patterns. Or a limp plastic noodle coming from the center of a disc, but trapped by a stationary loop on one side, flops itself in a most organic way when the disc begins to turn.

Demonstrating Newton’s law, “For every action there is a reaction,” has been the primary motive behind these inventions. A tall flexible rod topped by a ball and moving on an eccentric hub, sets another ball fixed to a rod in near proximity to jiggling; if not fastened down this action will set the whole device into a little jig on its pedestal. In another example, an umbrella-roofed “Carrousel” turns on its stem, and as it gains momentum wires hanging from its points swing in a wider and wider arc.

“Goony Bird” is a nicely joined wood and wire toy parodying an antique action somewhere between a windmill and a grandfather’s clock. Considering that piece as a beginning, the constructions progress through a great variety of machinations to the pieces whose works are concealed, quiet and evenly continuous, the latter perhaps best illustrated by the orange ball on its diagonal stem which orbits around a streamlined black hourglass.

Knute Stiles