Seven Days by Conrad Shawcross


London born Conrad Shawcross first came to public attention for his piece 'Nervous System' in 2003, which was subsequently shown at the Saatchi Gallery 'New Blood' exhibition in 2004. Since then his work has been internationally exhibited and is included in important private and museum collections around the world including British Council, Tate and Royal Opera House in London, MUDAM, Luxembourg and Museum of Old & New Art, Tasmania. Shawcross is best known for his sculpture inspired by the relationship between philosophy, physics, and mathematics. He was the Artist in Residence at the Science Museum, London (2009 - 2011).


'Seven Days' continues the artist's 'Harmonic Series' in which he explores and visualizes the mathematics intrinsic to music. The piece derives from a large mechanical work, 'Loop System Quintet', created in 2005 for the New Art Gallery, Walsall, which is now in the permanent collection of MONA, Tasmania. The installation is made up of five identical fast spinning articulated arms of oak. Mounted on the tip of each arm is an electric bulb, and at the base a bevel gear. Each gear is set to a different ratio corresponding to those found within the western chord sequence; the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, and the major sixth.  


As each arm rotates, the various ratios of the bevel gears cause each arm to extrude a different path in space. These were originally captured photographically using time lapse and time splicing. These knots of light are known as 'drones' in music.


In 'Seven Days', Shawcross extends the range of his 2005 piece to represent the entire octave, except unison (1:1). Each chord sequence is rendered in a continuous loop of solid silver. The structure of these forms becomes more complex until the final piece forms a densely packed circle of undulating metal. Any of these can be taken from their sequence and placed on the wrist. Each loop sits, according to its ratio, in ascending order in a dedicated box. In the lid, adjacent to each loop is the two diminutional transcription of the same chord created by a pendulum driven drawing machine. 


Because of the title, each piece inevitably becomes associated with the chronology of the weeks, and further exploits the artist's use of the sequence to create a control.