Hoberman spheres can be found in toys stores, your local science museum, and in the permanent collection at MoMA. Invented by artist, engineer, architect, and inventor Chuck Hoberman, the spheres can expand and contract thanks to “the scissor-like action of its joints.”
A Hoberman sphere typically consists of six great circles corresponding to the edges of an icosidodecahedron. The Hoberman sphere can be unfolded by allowing certain members to spread apart. This can be accomplished by feeding out a string or cable in the larger models. The operation of each joint is linked to all the others in a manner conceptually similar to the extension arm on a wall-mounted shaving mirror.
Kinetic artist Nils Völker uses them en masse in Bits and Pieces, his installation at Berlin’s Nome Gallery, shown above.
The installation consists out of 108 toy spheres hanging in the middle of the exhibition space. The mass-produced children toys are made from countless interconnected colorful plastic levers and can expand itself to a multiple of their size. Each one is moved by a servo motor and individually controlled by a micro-controller thus organic waves appear to move throughout the space although each single sphere simply expands and contracts at the right time.
Watch more toys, more spheres, more kinetic sculptures, and more engineering in the archives.
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