Atelier Automatik

"A small workshop specializing in automated craftsmanship"
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Sand Table

Sand is a strange medium to work with - a beach masterpiece rapidly fades when waves come in, so to is the ephemeral nature of the Sand Table. New drawings push aside the old creating a continuously changing canvas. A single steel ball, controlled by hidden magents underneath, rolls over a bed of fine white sand pushing the grains to either side. Precisely controlled motors create exquisite detail by shifting the ball ever-so-slightly to one side. The ball as like a type of brush - the channel left by the ball is one form of "brush stroke" and the sand moved in front and to the sides in another.

For over a thousand years the Japanese have maintained rock gardens like Ryōan-ji. Tibetan Buddhists have created and dismantled intricate and colorful sand mandalas. Islamic geometricians designed fascinating complex patterns based on squares, circles, and polygons. In modern times children delighted from experimenting with their Etch-a-sketch and Spirograph. The Sand Table is inspired from all of these forms of art - it creates homages in addition to a myriad of other beautiful imagery using fractals, harmonographs, pictures (from Google searches), and the written word.

Color washes over the sand from lights hidden underneath the table top. Their changing hues and shadows bring out the natural texture and make drawings come to life. Everything from simple single tones, to slowly shifting rainbows, to fire, to simulated ocean waves breaking over the sand allow the table to adapt to its surroundings.

All of the sophisticated electronics, motors, and lighting are harmoniously hidden inside a handcrafted, Asian-inspired, rosewood table. The piece can be controlled by speaking to Alexa, iPads, smartphones, or computer. The Sand Table can draw an infinite number of different patterns at scheduled times or display a preset sequence of drawings when needed.