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A common theme that seems to emerge when most artists are asked to speak of their work is that the intent of their art doesn’t necessarily translate unaltered unto the audienc

A common theme that seems to emerge when most artists are asked to speak of their work is that the intent of their art doesn’t necessarily translate unaltered unto the audience. Sometimes the overly analytical or imaginative interpretation of an artwork can actually baffle and surprise its creator. American kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin is said to "collapse the divide between the human and the human construct."

"What does that even mean?" he asks confused. Although he admits that his inability to understand somebody else’s interpretation of his work doesn’t necessarily make the interpretation untrue, "I can tell you for sure that my goal in making art is not to collapse the…. what was it again?"

Margolin is a kinetic sculptor – he makes 3D pieces of art that move. Transported from his workshop in California, his voice is like that of a Simpsons character, childlike yet distorted by a subtle masculine gruff. He has just returned home from Melbourne where he was working with Chunky Move’s creative director Gideon Obarzanek on the new dance production Connected.

Margolin and Obarzanek met each other in the United States in 2009. "We just liked each other’s work and decided to do a collaboration at that point." They both deal in movement. Obarzanek in that of humans and Margolin, sculptures. Perhaps therein lies the collapse of the divide between the human construct (sculpture) and the human (human). "I tend to use a lot of motors and cams and mechanical parts. Dancers are so incredibly fluid and dynamic and their range of motion is so wild that if there’s any way to respond to that even a little bit in the sculpture, it’d be pretty amazing."

Chunky Move is a revolutionary dance studio that stages postmodern dance-work of its own ingenious genre. "And he’s [Obarzanek] been working with these digital collaborations like Glow and Mortal Engine, so I think it was interesting for him to work in an analogue way. So it was a project that was challenging for both of us."

Mortal Engine saw dancers weave and twist on stage – their energy then being converted into light (through the use of lasers), sound and then back again into their own bodies. As Reuben notes, in Connected, Obarzanek discards modern technology for the analogue. But he maintains the same concept of the transformation of a dancer’s movements onto an inhuman form.

The sculpture is made mostly out of paper and consists of three parts. The first is "an overhead grid that gets rigged and hung from the ceiling of the theatre and then it has something that we’ve been calling the block, which is this mechanical element that’s out on the stage. The strings run from the grid to the block and then attach to dancers. It’s the dancers’ movement that causes the strings to move and goes through the block and the grid down to the paper elements. So the lower part of the sculpture is reflecting the movement of the dancers." As well as paper, the construction also incorporates magnets. "As part of the performance, [Gideon] really wanted the performers to build part of the sculpture so I put in the magnetic connection that would snap together easily and allow the sculpture to be built on stage".

Kinetic sculpture lies within a specific niche of interest and skill and Reuben’s seemingly different undertakings narrowed down to lead him there. He started off studying maths in college, went on to Geology, then Anthropology and finally graduated with a degree in English. When his poetry career didn’t take off, he went to study art in Italy and Russia. To narrow it down further, in 1999 he saw a caterpillar and bam! "It was the fluidity of the caterpillar. But it looked somehow mathematical, like maybe I could get to the bottom of that motion in a mathematical sense."

Drawing on all his knowledge and education, Reuben Margolin started making fascinating, mechanical artworks made of wood, steel, aluminium, plastic beads or – in the case of one that hangs in the lobby of a hotel in Texas – 14,000 bicycle reflectors. But regardless of the material, the hope is that they appear weightless in their wave-like motion. "I think also that by being mechanical, they are accessible. If you see something that you can actually understand how it works and it’s made by hand and it’s made by someone who enjoys their work – I think people respond to that."

Before it goes international, Connected will premier in Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre from March 11 -20 as part of Dance Massive. See for bookings and for more info on the work.