"What does it do? Just hang there?"
"It proves the rotation of the earth. Since the point of suspension doesn't move..."
"Why doesn't it move?"
"Well because a point... the central point, I mean, the one right in the middle of all the points you see...it's a geometric point; you can't see it because it has no dimension, and if something has no dimension, it can't move, not right or left, not up or down. So it doesn't rotate with the earth. You understand? It can't even rotate around itself. There is no itself."
Umberto Eco 1988
In June 2002 I finally got to photograph one of my Vancouver heroes- Alan Storey.
I am from a Latin American generation that was raised to the principle that the best of all possible worlds would happen thanks to arquitectos and ingenieros. While not going to the extreme of Italians who address not only arquitects, engineers and politicians but even police inspectors as Dottore, with a seriousness that has no reference to commedia dell'arte , we latinos respectfully address them as Sr. arquitecto, Sr. ingeniero, etc. This is possibly why I am always in awe in the presence of architect Arthur Erickson or would rather walk by Ned Pratt's Dal Grauer Substation on Burrard than go to church.
While artist/sculptor Alan Storey is not an architect or a civil engineer he is an artist whose works mirror the best and what's positive of technology and engineering even if our world will never be a better one through chemistry or electricity. His first large local work is my favourite. It is his 1987 Pendulum in the atrium of the HSBC Building on West Georgia. This fabulous work of art has absolutely no practical purpose except to delight the senses while telling us something of the laws of physics. If I am ever in the area I always find time to sit down and contemplate the pendulum. When I have out of town visitors the pendulum is one of my musts.
I photographed Storey by his Coopers Mews sculpture. For more details on it look here. It is a (again that word) whimsical look at what preceded the area before the condominiums were built. Part of the pathway includes steps that produce steam when one walks on them.
Storey and I had a fun time during our pleasant shoot. But it was partly jarred by an event that I will not forget.
We stopped our picture taking when we saw an extremely beautiful and elegant blue car stop at the gate of one of the condos. It was an Aston Martin being driven by a young man. He glanced in our direction and then the gate went up and he disappeared into his building's garage. We discussed that the kind of luxury that we had previously associated with living in Shaughnessy had a much different counterpart here by his sculpture and that it was a luxury of which we had no inkling. It was a way of life for which we had no understanding.
The "simple" complexity of the physics of the pendulum had and has no equivalent to the possibly dot.com source of the Aston Martin driver's wealth. We live in a much more complex and perplexing world. Thankfully I can observe Storey's pendulum and feel equilibrium.
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