And sitting at my desk, I started waving a length of wire around listening to the whipping sound that it made in the air. I thought - what if I could slow this process down, so that I could see how graceful the wire could be. Using a thick stadler eraser I had lying on my desk, I stuck it on the end of the piano wire and suddenly the wire had a personality of it’s own. It bent, swayed, and sagged with gusto flip-flopping around, exaggerating small movements that I made while holding the base of the wire.
I quickly built a small prototype using a bright orange ear plug as a stand in for a light. I discovered that the weight of the object and bending resistance of the wire had a special symbiotic relationship. And, if I wiggled the wire at the right frequency there was a resonance and the ear plug pendulum traced a larger and larger path. So I coupled the pendulum with a exciter, a turning cam that translated rotation motion into back and forth motion.
The final challenge was to create a full scale version of the lamp, one that could support a large incadecent light bulb. I made a trip to the hardware store and using that as a constrained design space choose everyday, simple materials to reconstruct the lamp: a plunger for the base, shelving bracets to support the cam, piano wire and close-line rope to create the spring, thicker piano wire to bend the cam mechanism, and a lightbulb to be the pendulum's weight.
There was also an unplanned element of thrill in interacting with the lamp. The faster it swung, the closer the lightbulb came to touching the hand of the lamp's choreographer. In a test of trust, people flirted with danger as the lamp danced closer and closer.