Artist Reflections

I am interested in making machines which dance into the future. They are not tools with a purpose, but agents which carry out joyful ritualistic activity for its own sake. As artwork, each is not just an artifact, but a process which includes the mechanism, the movements, the underlying computation, and the slow degradation and decay of the parts. The generative algorithms create a performance spanning many years, so what we are seeing is the beginning of a recital which in principle could extend long past our lives into an uncertain future.

But all machines are prone to failure. The well-designed ones can be repaired to extend their life indefinitely, but eventually they all decay. By including plaster components in my machine I wish to highlight the tension between our faith in the durability of machines and their essentially fragile nature and dependence on us. As a material, gypsum plaster has no intrinsic lifespan, and I associate it with the stability of sculpture and architecture. But its brittleness is a reminder that without care and attention our works will fall apart.


Garth Zeglin is a roboticist, artist, and educator. His artwork centers on expressive dynamic machines. These kinetic sculptures blend controlled movement with unpredictability to create emergent performances. His past work includes live shows and gallery works incorporating freely flowing fabric. His current direction involves machines constructed from fragile plaster parts which explore the joys of risk, impermanence, and decay. Garth currently teaches Physical Computing in the interdisciplinary IDeATe program at Carnegie Mellon University.

August, 2021