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Abstract Steam Engine Sculpture

It's modern art but it's also a 30 or 40 cylinder steam engine.
  [vote for,

This would take both artistic vision and an incredible engineering skill.

Picture a massive linear steam engine twisted and bent into interesting shapes and sized, some cylinders being just an inch or two across, some being 3 or 4 feet wide, all working in sync to turn something.

I'm a big fan of kinetic sculpture, but as far as I know nobody's made an artistically sculptured working engine before.

Some general shape ideas posted in links.

doctorremulac3, Jul 12 2019

Shaped like this... https://images.app....l/ULt9XEQi6kFfKWYQ8
[doctorremulac3, Jul 12 2019]

...or this ... https://images.app....l/ggXaXGsAtNJVv1fr5
[doctorremulac3, Jul 12 2019]

... etc. https://images.app....l/4zVpW4J3ta1m7hT4A
[doctorremulac3, Jul 12 2019]

Heureka https://www.atlasob...eka-useless-machine
Prior Art [8th of 7, Jul 12 2019]

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       While almost all steam engines are beautiful things in their own right, this would be an opportunity for some innovative Steampunkery, so we award a bun.
8th of 7, Jul 12 2019

       There are several artists who have made mechanical movement sculptural objects of whom Jean Tinguely is perhaps the best known. There are others who have made more industrial machines, such as San Francisco artist Mark Pauline, but I can't think of a steam piston powered outcome, so the doc has something. [+]
xenzag, Jul 12 2019

       That he has something is not in doubt; the concern is that it might be contagious.
8th of 7, Jul 12 2019

       //Jean Tinguely is perhaps the best known.// There's a less well known one?   

       There's always the example of "Blackwell's Folly", a behemoth stationary atmospheric steam engine which, it was hoped and promised, would be super-efficient for pumping water out of the Cornish tin-mines. It was the size of a bus but not as pretty to look at. The main cylinder, as well as the piston, moved. But it also had secondary cylinders and secondary pistons, and on those were mounted tertiary cylinders and tertiary pistons. The whole thing moved like some sort of fractal accordion-player, only not as fast. Or as efficiently. Or as profitably. And only until it broke, which was almost immediately.   

       It was more a masterpiece of psychopathology than a work of art, but more a work of art than a useful device.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 12 2019

       [Max] Was the Folly before manufacturing processes could make it good or was there no redeeming partial ideas at all?   

       It would be the height of achievement for the beautiful, inspiring sculpture to have an actual purpose as well. Nuclear isotopes heating the water, to start off public education?
wjt, Jul 13 2019

       That Heureka thing is close. Looks a little practical though.   

       I'm picturing the thing following lines that are decidedly non intended for an engine.   

       Hey Max, got any links to that Blackwell's Folly steam engine thing?
doctorremulac3, Jul 13 2019

       Ack! It took me a moment to realize why I don't like this idea. I think it suggests to me the proposition that existing steam engines are *not* art.   

       I visited Crossness pumping station recently, where they have restored one of the steam engines to working order. Hundreds of tons of moving cast iron, all ornately decorated, in a cathedral of Victorian architecture. It is unquestionably sublime, but since it was built for function, I suppose some people might argue that it is not art.   

       But I have been to many model engineering fairs, where old engineers demonstrate how they have spent their retirement, sinking thousands of hours into machining model steam engines. These have no function. Some of them are miniatures of real engines, but many of them are new designs that serve no purpose other than to perhaps demonstrate the skill of their maker. One design that springs to mind is the "elbow engine" - a steam (or compressed air) engine with the only selling point being that it's difficult to build.   

       The vast majority of steampunk artworks are fake, but model steam engines are real, pointless, and beautiful.
mitxela, Jul 13 2019

       I'm not saying machines as they are aren't art and can't be beautiful.   

       This is just an idea for twisty, weird steam engines, nothing more.
doctorremulac3, Jul 13 2019

       Have a steamed bun.
AusCan531, Jul 13 2019

       // demonstrate the skill of their maker. //   

       "Artist" vs. "Artisan" ?   

       It's an interesting distinction.   

       "Works of Art" by and large are unique, and incapable of duplication ; whereas a machine, though it may also exist only as a single instance (such as Stevenson's 'Rocket', or the Difference Engine) could be reproduced, said reproduction being merely a matter of technical and financial resource.
8th of 7, Jul 13 2019

       Some art works are produced as editions, so the distinction is more subtle than being a singular item.
xenzag, Jul 13 2019

       Talking of energetically expensive, this should be a global art competition with entry installations at cities with national parliaments or equivalent.
wjt, Jul 13 2019


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