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#226 :: Ersatz Astrolabe

September 22, 2004

The spherical rhythm of astronomic instruments seduces the eye. Ignorant of its real function, you fall into it, sucked deep by a vortex of repeating rings of mysterious meaning. It’s not the power of the instrument to divine the movement of the stars, but the power of the cool thing made of interlocking circles, the desire to pick it up and spin it, see if it looks different when you reorient its geometry. I made this for my then-new wife a few years back – banged together concentric needlework hoop-frames on brass machine-screw pivots, and at its heart stationed a sun, made by punching push-pins into a cedar ball I had fished from the bottom of the closet. I was never mathematical – Cs and B-minuses through high school – and had no hope of ever really having the patience to understand the markings on a real astrolabe. But I wanted to be able to hold one. In the end, it’s really just a cargo cult fetish.

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