125 seconds of Perpetuball Motion Machine No. 1

On shitty days, we often find ourselves driving to the big city… Watertown, NY. (I’m being ironic, but they do have a Chipotle, a selection of thrift stores, and an indoor playground.) One of Otis’s favorite pastimes on these trips is to go to the Salmon Run Mall and look at (and run around and shout at) a kinetic ball sculpture by George Rhoads: Perpetuball Motion Machine No. 1. When I was a kid, I used to beg my parents to take me to Port Authority to see Rhoads’s 42nd Street Ballroom so I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

During our most recent viewing, we witnessed a very rare event: one of the balls jumped the track! There was a hangup just past the collection point for Otis’s favorite part of the sculpture. This purple rack collects balls one at a time and when it gets to four all of them are dumped.

Three go to the left and down a yellow Jacob’s-ladder-type chute. One goes to the right and rolls down a green xylophone. (Listen to the action at 1:40 above!) Well, this time around there’d been a hangup with the previous cycle and one of the balls got stuck. When the next four got dumped, two ended up going to the right and after the first was caught by a claw and re-deposited elsewhere the second shot right off the end of the track! It fell to the floor and got stuck in a corner.