Metal Tower
Created Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The goal of this project was to have students build some kind of tower out of metal.  Like the previous Metal Wall project, I decided to go a slightly different route.  My original plan, however, was to make a giant, metal tower, or rather, a series of giant metal towers.  I wanted to build a system of giant chimes arranged in a circle.  As you can see in the images below, the chimes would be arranged in a circle, and the viewer would be able to walk into the middle of the chimes if he or she chose.  Upon hitting the giant tubes (with some kind of mallet perhaps), they would emit musical notes just like a set of percussive chimes.  If I remember correctly, the smaller the tube, the higher the tone (or maybe it was the other way around…).  Here is my original proposal for this idea:

For this project, I would like to create a series of tubes that are set up in a circular layout. These tubes would be (ideally) taller than the viewer and would form a large structure that the viewer(s) could walk into via a section of this circle that is not housing a tube. The tubes would be arranged so that the edges of one tube touch the edges of the next tube. Each tube would be higher than the next. I would like this piece to resemble a wind chime. Although I am not yet sure if I want to (or if it would be a good idea/work) put a piece in the inside of the ring of tubes that reacts to the wind. The reason I am unsure about this is because the piece would have to be relatively big in order to cause a sound when it hit the tubes, and it would also have to hang from the top of the piece that would block the view of one looking up while inside the piece. I also thought about hanging the entire piece, but I decided against it for much the same reason (also, I’d imagine the piece will be heavy and hard to support from a hanging structure). I would like these tubes to produce sound, however, so I have thought about giving the viewer(s) a mallet or some type of tool to hit the tubes and produce different sounds. I would like there to be eight tubes that each produce a pitch from one octave (eight notes in an octave; eight tubes to produce each note). I can see a few things that this piece could mean. It could have something to do with the “power” of music, both audibly (since the sound produced will most likely be quite loud) and physically (again, the soundwaves produced by the tubes will most likely be felt physically). This could also talk about the power man has to control his environment or the power to manipulate the things around him (manipulating sound or manipulating the tower as a whole to do what he wants).

Unfortunately, upon discovering the price such a magnificent piece would cost, I immediately set my sights on building a smaller tower.  And build a smaller tower I most certainly did!

“Instead of building a giant tower that’s much bigger than a person,” I thought, “why not build a tower that’s much smaller than a person?”  I decided to build a “mini” tower, if you will.  Here is my original proposal for that idea:

What is a tower? Is it something big? How big? Bigger than humans? As big as a skyscraper? Does it have to be that big? Is a two-story house a tower? Is a one-story house? It’s bigger than us, so why not? Has the definition for a tower changed over time? Why do we consider some things towers and others not? Are humans themselves not towers to smaller animals or even to each other? To something like a gnat, humans are outrageously colossal. Even just a finger nail or a hair is many times bigger than the gnat. Imagine being the size of a gnat and seeing something as big as a human. Would that be a tower? In this project, I plan to make a small (relatively speaking) metal structure, no more than six inches tall. The shape of this metal structure will be influenced by old Asian (mainly Japanese and Chinese) architecture, specifically pagodas. The reasoning behind this is twofold: one, a pagoda was the first shape that I thought of when I thought of a tower, and two, because pagodas were some of the first “towers” being traced as far back as the 3rd century BCE. In order to give the viewer(s) some point of proportional reference, I am going to make this tower out of staples. This of course, won’t be any specific proportional reference, but rather it will be a general reference to let the viewer(s) know this tower is working within the confines of the mini. In order to attach the staples to each other, I will use some kind of transparent glue. I’ll start by seeing how well hot glue and a hot glue gun will work, however I can see a few problems with this, so in case that will not work, I have other glue that I can use in combination with a small nozzle so as to make the gluing as unnoticeable and exact as I can.

So, I ended up building a tiny tower out of staples!  For the critique, I placed the tower in the art department courtyard next to some small palmetto trees (there is also a much larger tree in the patch, but it is not in any of the photos).  I thought it was really neat that even the leaves were bigger than the tower.

Note: The character model in the 3D renders was not made by me.  It is the Zero Suit Samus model from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  I used it for size comparison.