Mesmerizing kinetic sand drawing tables

Condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain for all eternity, Sisyphus was a legend from Greek mythology. However, in these mesmerizing tables, Sisyphus is a kinetic sculpture that rolls a ball through sand. Under the glass top of the tables are a thin layer of sand. Beneath that is a robot-powered magnet that rolls a ball through the grains, forever creating and erasing beautiful patterns. 


Creator Bruce Shapiro uses CNC machines to produce tables which trace beautiful patterns in thin layers of sand. Thus transforming the tools that create sculptures into a sculpture itself. For almost 20 years Bruce has been producing the Sisyphus sculptures. He even has permanent installations of his works in Switzerland, Germany, and Australia.


But now he has a commercial idea on his mind. He wants to bring his art into people’s homes in the form of coffee tables. Starting a Kickstarter campaign, his goal is to produce three types of domestic tables: an end table, three-foot metal coffee table, and a four-foot hardwood coffee table.

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“Over time I have come to view Sisyphus as more than a kinetic art piece: it is an instrument,” said Bruce. “As a musical instrument plays songs, Sisyphus plays paths. My goal with this Kickstarter is to get Sisyphus into people’s homes for them to enjoy as both furniture and art, but also, to inspire a community of composers to write ‘music’ for it.”

So how do these sand drawing tables work? Well, a Raspberry Pi computer controls two motors, which play the pattern files until you unplug it. So Sisyphus’s eternity is as long as the user decides. On the other hand, you can create your favourite playlist, control the table lighting and speed of drawing by any browser or a mobile app.

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If you like to get further information about the project, Shapiro shares all the technical details like hardware and software overviews on his Kickstarter.