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Joseph Herscher - La macchina botanica

Joseph Herscher - La macchina botanica

MICROCLIMA, Biennale Gardens, Venice
June 3

La macchina botanica is the first work commissioned for MICROCLIMA, a new series of site-specific projects in the Greenhouse of Venice's Biennale Garden that use contemporary art as a means for exploring the connections among human beings and the natural world. La macchina botanica is a 12-metre-long Rube Goldberg machine comprising ten modular panels. Each panel contained a set of interacting objects that triggered subsequent movements—such as rotating gardening forks that knock wooden balls—with the sequences of all ten panels connecting to form a continuous chain of motion. The final panel consisted of mechanisms forcing several pitchers to tip, one after another, to pour water over various plants.
The machine was built over the course of five days, from 2pm to 6pm, at the rate of two panels per day. The construction was overseen by Herscher, according to his design, with the help of forty local kids and two assistants / translators. The children learn many techniques for working with everyday found items to produce whimsical, captivating, functional creations. There was a strong emphasis on pacing, scale and repetition to form a clear narrative. On-the-spot problem solving was encouraged. The final demonstration of the fully-functioning machine took place in front of the Greenhouse on June 3 at 4pm.

Joseph Herscher is a kinetic artist specializing in Rube Goldberg machines. His work has been viewed by millions of people worldwide, and featured in The New Yorker online, as well as numerous television and radio shows. He has led highly successful workshops in Brooklyn, Boston and New Zealand, and lectured at Parsons The New School For Design in New York.

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