A Chance Encounter with the Grand Wazoo
by Janet Roos (Michigan Art Journal– January 1976) For several years Jim Pallas has been creating works that involve
computer circuitry which gathers information from its environment and
transforms it into patterns of sculptural light, sound and movement. On
one level, he considers the works to be like organisms in that they
sense environmental phenomena, process the perception in electronioc
logic and behave accordingly. The works themselves have an organic
appearance both in structure and behavior.
|To the uninitiated, Pallas's
use of technology is impressive.|
"I was trained in the traditional art
media. To break away from carving stone and cast metal and use the new
technology was difficult but necessary for the development of my ideas.
It is exciting but seductive and it took some time to realize that the
new tecnology is an aspect of craftsmanship."
With the aid of engineer
Dick Dudchik, he employs basic computing circuits. These are primarily
logic chips interfaced with the "outside world" through photocells,
reed and mercury switches and microphones for input. The output is
generally light, sound and motor and solenoid actuated movements.
"Science in general is of interest to me because it joins with art and
spirituality to increase awareness." Pallas says He thinks of his work as organisms." The universe is
known to each individual creature as a result of it's panoply of senses
and the significance it attributes to them. Attribution of significance
is determined by the individual's perception processing structure with
some kind of memory and environmental goals. This and its environment
influence its behavior. These are some of the concepts involved in my
A Chance Encounter with the Grand Wazoo
is the most recent of Pallas's sculptures. This project was
commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. B. Courtney Rankin. It consists of two
sculptures, a 6 1/2 foot high Wind attendant outside (left) and an interior
The Wind Attendant is made of bronze and aluminum and a 6 1/2
foot high. It is painted with automotive lacquers, contains two wind
sensors, and a photocell eye. It sends its data to the Grand Wazoo (below) by
an underground cable.
The Grand Wazoo in progress in Palals' Grosse Pointe studio.
begins with an awareness of environmental stimuli. A human being,
having jiggled a specialized appendage on the Alter Ego, determines
which which two of the four other environmental stimuli (wind 1, wind 2, interior and exterior eye ) will operate the Grand
Wazoo's memory. The coordinated memories are shifted then counted by a
high-capacity (4096 max.) counter. Independent of the jiggles
the pulse of the inside eye and combined wind pulses are counted on
separate, low capacil (16 max.) counters. The state of all
this logic animates a 183 colored pinpoints of light emitting diodes.
The movement of feelers, dots and blue flags is also controlled by this
Consciousness chart for the Grand Wazoo
| Detail of counters and
welded wire body.
|The head of the Grand Wazoo is
19 inches long and made of steel, plastic, circuitry, paint and horsehair. The array of light emitting diodes
shift and move with the Grand Wazoo's memory.
Outside Eye: Incorporated in the outside sculpture and thus wind
directed, This provides a steady pulse in in varying in rate from 1 to
40 per second depending on the light level of its small field vision:
It's more active at night.
Inside Eye: Incorporated in the Grand Wazoo, its frequency is directly
related to the brightness of its large field of vision. Its direction is
manually adjustable and monitors the Grand Wazoo's immediate area.
Wind 1 and wind 2: propeller–shaped vanes rotate in the wind. Each
provides one pulse per revolution.
shaking the Jiggle, a chance encounter, which directs the
Grand Wazoo's attention. Jiggle: a Mercury switch responds to its
handling by a human by changing the Grand Wazoo's data selection.
enables the viewer to randomly direct the Grand Wazoo attention to the
various stimulus inputs described above.
Wind Attendant Connector pin outs