What is it?
This artwork seeks nervously until a presence is detected in front of it. Moving closer or further away from it causes it to gently spin. When the lid is closed, like a parrot, it sleeps.
The spinning, copper-colored object is the inside of a spindle motor from a CNC router. This motor failed; it seemed like a bearing had gone bad, which I thought I could replace, so I took it apart. Out came ten years’ of powdered metal, wood, and plastic—and also this gleaming form.
I decided to replace my CNC router’s spindle with a new one, but wished to honor this failed motor by connecting it to a new motor (at the very bottom) which provides it with new life.
The two motors and the red/black wires are only loosely coupled, so they each spin at different speeds and with different characters.
At the very bottom of the case (a used, industrial wireway) is a shaft coupler which I accidentally turned into a spring while attempting to enlarge its diameter.
Concealed LED strips light the inside of the box while the lid is open. It senses presence through an infrared laser rangefinder, of a type used in smartphones to tell if they are up against your ear. The “nervous seeking” sans humans of “Backdriven (Driven Back)” is a simple consequence of the random distances hallucinated by the sensor when nothing is in range.
Using one motor to drive another is called “backdriving” in some scenarios. The work’s title also reflects the way that this spindle motor was nearly discarded—coming back from the brink on this form of life support.