Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Storm Bell and his rolling drawing machine

Posted 29 October 2018

Storm Bell has been rolling an interactive artwork officially known as Drawing Machine III around Glen Waverley Campus, intriguing students and recent Graduate Art exhibition attendees alike to interact with his creation.

As well as being a work of art in its own right, Drawing Machine III provides a mechanism for others, the audience, to take control of the machine and produce drawings which appear on the barrel’s surface. The work translates physical interaction into visual language with powerful pushes, gentle turns and abrupt stops manifesting into their own unique line-work. 

Drawing Machine III is inspired, primarily, by the work of Cameron Robbins, a contemporary artist currently exhibiting at the Museum of Old and New Art, and other contemporary art galleries around Australia. Storm says ‘Like Robbins, my work, Drawing Machine III builds on the artistic notion of fate and coincidence, with a focus to achieve artwork without the influence of myself - the artist.’  

‘My initial goals for the machine was to create a device that responds to the "subtle and chaotic dynamics of human movement", "allowing marks on the page to stray from their otherwise predetermined path", and by mimicking Robbin's use of armature wire, these goals were achieved convincingly.’ Storm said. 

Storm’s Art teacher Fleur Worboys said, ‘He has constantly challenged these concepts to find new ways to make marks and explore creative expression.’

Making the machine

Storm Bell Drawing Machine III

The machine began conceptually on paper and later evolved into a series of prototypes, before reaching its current state. The machine is constructed using an oil drum, aluminium, copper, stone, armature wire, bearings, construction hardware, felt-tipped pen and marine fastener. The machine itself took approximately two weeks to construct, although, minor modifications were made over the month following its completion to fine-tune its operation. 

‘Storm has taken on a very conceptual idea to investigate this year and his finished Unit 4 drawing machine and subsequent works stem from a range of experiments and research and a great deal of ingenuity. Storm works independently and has spent hours of extra time in the Art Department exploring and experimenting’, Ms Worboys said.

Response to the machine

Storm's peers, both staff and students, have responded surprisingly positively to the drawing machine and the concepts which it exemplifies. ‘I was expecting to hear a lot of the typical “I could do that” or “why is that in an art show” but instead I observed honest wonder as various audiences read the blurb and observed its movement.

Students, especially those in younger year levels, thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the machine, discovering what marks various types of movement could make,’ Storm said.

Art as a collaboration tool

Storm Bell Drawing Machine III

Storm enjoys how studying art allows him to engage in his own interests, explore concepts and work with others.

‘I love the collaborative nature of art as, often, artworks do not occur without the assistance of others. 

‘Bringing people together, including those whom you wouldn’t talk to in a conventional classroom, around a common idea or concept is something I find particularly enjoyable,’ he said. 

Storm is also the Visual Arts prefect at Glen Waverley Campus this year. As Ms Worboys explains, ‘He has been an excellent advocate for the Visual Arts. He works with all students and has been enthusiastic in his endeavour to promote the Arts.’

Artistic aspirations

Storm Bell Drawing Machine III

Storm plans to study the Bachelor of Design at the University of Melbourne next year, with a specific focus on Architecture, an aspect of design that he grew to love during his Year 11 Unit 3/4 study of Visual Communication Design. His work from this subject was exhibited at Melbourne Museum as part of theTop Designs exhibition. 

In addition to this, Storm is currently studying Architecture at a tertiary level, ‘My current studies of Landscape Architecture at RMIT, which I took on as part of my year 12 curriculum, have also contributed to my indefinite future ambitions and career goals’, he said. 

During the past week, the drawing machine has been on display in the annual VCE art exhibition, where it has received significant interaction and participation. Over the course of the exhibition, the machine produced a single drawing which marked the movements of all the attendees from opening night until closing.

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