Trash into Treasure
This section describes the way bicycles parts were used as an artistic medium for the exhibition. The idea was to use recycled materials to present the pictures. The first issue was to find out how we were going to mount the pictures. The usual solution is to buy ready-made aluminum frames with glass front. These could only be found new in such quantities (over 50 pictures of various formats were displayed,) and the materials used to build these frames crave a lot of energy to manufacture.
I was fortunate enough to find a very kind and understanding bicycle smith whose back room was full of "junk"--that is broken or unusable bicycle parts such as wheels, hubs, rims, and chains. In fact, it would probably have been possible to find there at least one of each of all the components a bicycle is made of. Walther was very happy to see the pile of junk shrink, freeing his working space. Conversely, my basement took the appearances of a bike shop!
I started playing with rims and wheels, guided by the desire to transform them into picture frames. The first prototype was a cumbersome contraption that was very unpractical, although nice looking. I tried other ways, and in the course of about a week, suddenly, I was blessed with the kind of revelation I call a Zen Insight. The result was, after several iterations, each more simple than the previous one, the "Minimalist Frame??etc," which was used to mount most pictures. The Minimalist Frame??etc is shown on figure 1, to come soon (sorry, text-only browser, but at times a picture cannot be replaced, even by 1000 words!)
The Minimalist Frame??etc consists of very few parts, is simple to put together, allows easy picture insertion and removal, and can be built to accommodate different formats. To build a Minimalist Frame??etc for an A4 format picture, you need the following:
* 1 full, unbroken, somewhat true bicycle rim, and if it is not true enough, straighten it by bending it back: we are not talking about precision, here! The rim from an average touring bicycle (700C or 27 1/2 inches) is about 64 cm in diameter, measured inside the rim;
* Two sections of rim (see below for length;)
* Two full spokes (these two spokes must have both thread and head) that are about 30 cm long, with their nipples;
* Two spokes or sections of spokes of a length of about 20 cm with their nipples (these must have a thread on one end;)
* A nipple from a bigger kind of spoke (usually found on BMX bicycles.) The nipple must be big enough that a regular spoke will fit in without having to thread it (or when one threads the spoke and reaches the end of the thread, the spoke slides inside the nipple.)
* A pair of strong pliers to bend spokes;
* A drill and three drill bits, one 2mm, one big enough to drill holes through which the nipple bodies must fit, and one big enough to drill a hole through which the larger nipple bodies must fit;
* Nippers strong enough to cut spokes.
Average bicycle wheels have 36 spokes. It means that there are 37 hole in a rim, the 37th, bigger than the others, for the valve. The spoke holes are 10 degrees apart from one another. Because of that, when talking about cutting rim sections for the parts holding the picture, I will mention angles instead of centimeters. When looked at radially--that is the curvature of the rim not showing--these sections look respectively like figures 2 and 3 (to come soon.)
For instance, you will need a 30 degrees section that will correspond to a length of rim starting at a spoke hole, containing 2 spoke holes, and finishing at the fourth hole (see figure 2, to come soon.) Such a section will be called a "top" section.
The other kind of section you will use begins between two spoke holes. It will contain three holes and finish between the third and the fourth hole. It will be called a "bottom" section (see figure 3, to come soon.)
Each section has 4 useful holes, some are spoke holes that are already there, and some have to be drilled. The holes are labeled Ta, Tb, Tc, and Td for the top section, and Ba, Bb, Bc, and Bd for the bottom section. Following is a description of the holes with an explanation of how they are used.
Ta, Td, and Bc: original spoke holes.
Tb, Tc, Ba, Bb, and Bd: 2 mm holes, drilled.
Tb is drilled half-way between Ta and Td, and Tc is drilled 1,5 cm to the right of Tb.
Ba and Bd are drilled half-way between the existing spoke holes, and Bb 1,5 cm to the left of Bc.
Bc must be widened with the third drill bit for the larger nipple to fit in it.
To mount the picture holder:
Place the two rim sections on a flat surface so that the grooves face each other (see figure 1, to come soon) placing them about 30 cm apart (for an A4 picture.)
Make sure that Tc and Bb are on opposite sides of the median line--that is Tc and Td on the right, and Bb and Ba to the left.
Slide the two full spokes into Ba and Bd, then through Ta and Td.
Make sure that the head of the spokes point in opposite directions, one towards the front, and one towards the back.
Engage the nipples on the spokes and turn about three turns.
To install the picture holder into the frame:
Center the rim around the part you just built (see figure 1, to come soon.) Vertical centering is important.
Measure the distance between the inside of the rim and the top of the two rim sections, and move the rim again until you measure the same distance. Add about 5 mm to that measurement (it should be around 15 to 17 cm .)
Take one of the two spoke sections and measure the same distance from the threaded end. Bend the spoke at 90 degrees. Measure 1,5 cm from the bend and bend again in the same direction, forming a right angle hook.
Cut at about 1 cm from the last bend. See figure 4, to come soon. Do the same with the other spoke section.
Insert the bigger nipple into Bc, from the groove side of the bottom rim section. It may help to file the slot in the head of the nipple so that it is level with the body of the nipple. It will make sure that when the spoke sits in, it does not stick out (see figure 5, to come soon.)
Insert the spoke pieces you just bent twice in the rim section, from the groove side, in the center holes (Tb and Bc.) When the spoke pieces are fully inserted, the short hook parts will fit in holes Tc and Bb.
Make sure that the spoke section that goes through the bottom piece rests at the bottom of the filed nipple. If it does not, file the nipple again until it does. Otherwise, the spoke section not go in all the way and its thread will no reach to be screwed into the nipple.
By now, you should have all parts in place and the threaded ends of the spoke sections should be just about flush with the inner part of the rim.
Pick two holes on the rim that are diametrically opposed (you should count 17 spoke holes between them.) You may wonder about the valve hole. If you know that the picture will be a horizontal picture, place the valve hole half-way between the holes you pick. Otherwise, let it be next to the top hole. In both cases, it can be used to hang the frame to the wall.
Insert the nipples into the rim and screw them on to the spoke sections. Voil¨¤!
If you did a good job, and that will come after a few trials, you should have a frame that holds together. All you have to do is to slide the picture into the grooves (the picture was first glued to a stiff piece of cardboard.) The nipples can be tightened or loosened to adjust the size.
Once the picture is well set in the frame, tighten the nipples on the rim to get a tight fit. Another feature of the Minimalist Frame?is that you can in fact mount two pictures on it, one on each side. The frame can be easily rotated to display one picture, and later the other.
* A specially designed bicycle showing a set of nine pictures from the same street corner in Freiburg. The pictures were mounted on a drum that one made turn by turning the bicycle's pedals. By applying a foot brake, one made the drum stop on one of the pictures. The idea was to show that even in the heart of a city that does very good work with traffic problems, many facets can emerge with time. The pictures shown were all taken within half an hour. They go from a nearly empty street with a couple of pedestrians to a fully blocked view on account of parked cars and delivery trucks.
* A sculpture made from a bicycle wheel, nine shot glasses and three bells puzzled a few people. When one made the wheel turn, the bells (wooden balls hanging from threads) bounced against the shot glasses caught between the wheel's spokes. A gentle sound resulted. Each glass had a word on it. The rotation offered a message to the viewer: ,Drink and Drive? Try Park and Ride!" The sculpture was mounted with a bicycle fork.
* A nine candle chandelier made from a bicycle wheel mounted with two hubs instead of one. The candle holders were themselves half hubs. The whole contraption could rotate as well. The chandelier was mounted with a bicycle fork.
* A set of "Before-After" pictures was presented in a somewhat untraditional manner:
Usually, before-after sets are shown with both pictures side by side. The result is that, very quickly, one does not pay much attention to the differences. Instead, one begins to automatically acknowledge "Here is before, and here is after."
To avoid this effect, we used an interesting feature of the Minimalist Frame??etc: the fact that one picture can be mounted on each side, with the possibility of rotating the frame to alternately see both pictures. A special Minimalist Frame??etc was built with five frames side by side. On each side of each frame, two pictures were placed, either before or after, without mention of which was which. The result was ten sets of two pictures. Visitors had to turn frames to match the sets. Physical involvement with material allows for better connections.
* A collection of cobble stone from several of the towns I visited were put on display. The material of which the stone were made was indicated.
* The outside perimeter of the exhibition was decorated with a set of sixteen pictures of bicycles.