Bernal Artist Bernie Lubell Unveils Remarkable Wooden Machine That Does Almost Nothing




Last night, Neigbor Lessley and I left the familiar environs of Bernal Heights to attend the glamorous opening party for Neighbor Bernie Lubell’s massive new solo art installation at Intersection for the Arts downtown.

As you may remember, when we last saw Neighbor Bernie’s new artwork, it was under construction in his garage on Crescent, and it looked like a medieval Rube Goldberg machine built from wood scavenged from a construction site. Very mysterious.

Last night at Intersection for the Arts, the true nature of his project was revealed. It’s called “Why Can’t the First Part of the Second Party  be the Second Part of the First Party?” and when fully assembled, it becomes a series of rope-driven pulleys, gears, and driveshafts fabricated entirely from lumber. The ropes are driven by human-powered pedal-bikes and treadmills, which generate lots of gear-spinning motion — but surprisingly little actual change.

This high effort/outcome ratio very much by design. “It’s a piece about people working together to get nothing to happen,” is how Neighbor Bernie described it last night. The wall text at Neighbor Bernie’s show explained that the piece…

… relies entirely on visitors’ active participation to bring it to life. The interconnected mechanisms provide various ways for participants to cooperate to get nothing to happen and several ways to monitor this nothing as it happens.

It’s extremely complicated, meticulously constructed, somewhat confusing, and completely awesome.

Neighbor Bernie’s exhibition will be at Intersection of the Arts (925 Mission) from now until June 7, so if you find yourself near Mission and Fifth, stop in to check it out. Bernalwood is told he will also give an artist’s talk there on May 10.

Congrats and nice work, Neighbor Bernie!

PHOTOS: Top, Bernie Lubell at his opening last night. All photos by Telstar Logistics

2 thoughts on “Bernal Artist Bernie Lubell Unveils Remarkable Wooden Machine That Does Almost Nothing

  1. This is the guy up to the left on Crescent that is always in his garage working

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. It’s such a cool piece. He was there today, too! Explained how not to get anything done and have fun doing so.

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