Pullcordion - 2011

Artwork Notes

Pullcordion is an exercise in mechanical motion. Horizontal pull is translated into vertical lift and rotation. The sounds made by the expansion and contraction of the dryer ducts are created by harmonica reeds installed on the top of each tube. Visually, one of the goals was to contrast the organic, creature-like quality of the tubes with the angular black box and rigid wooden dowels. Mechanically however, all these components work together as a single system to transform the pulling motion of the viewer into action and sound.

Project Description

Pullcordion was made as a final project for CCRMA's Music 250B, taken during winter quarter 2011. This year, the class was co-taught by instrument designer, kinetic sculptor and installation artist Trimpin.


This sculpture was built in about two months during winter quarter 2011. There was several stages of iteration on the design, mechanics and materials. Eventually I decided to use dryer duct tubing because of how amazing it looked as it coiled around a rigid wooden dowel. Here is a video of the first working prototype. This is before there was a sound component.

You'll notice that the action here is slightly different than the finished product. Here tube coils on the way up instead of on the way down. Originally, I thought I would need to force the rotation of the tube to achieve the corkscrew motion - I did this by wrapping the rope around the wooden rod. However, in later tests I found that the tube would automatically coil itself on the way down simply as a product the duct material's spiral construction. By stretching it out to it's full length, a slight rotation is induced - think of stretching out a short slinky. This rotation remains in place as the tube begins to falls back down.

The majority of the construction took the form of building a box that would serve as a base for my three tubes and house my pulleys. The box was constructed out of plywood and later spay-painted with glossy black paint. PVC pipe was used as a way to hold my wooden dowels vertical and to keep friction at a minimum.

Each of the tubes is closed off at the top and bottom with a metal dryer-duct cap, and the wooden dowels are screwed into the top caps. Each of the top caps has six individual harmonica reeds glued into it, with three inside and three outside. For those of you unfamiliar with harmonica reeds, this is because they only work when air is pushed in one direction through them. Putting some on the inside and some on the outside allows there to be different chords for expansion and contraction.

Constructed Painted
Reeds Chords