Kenyon College

William Udell


An Understanding of the Habitual. Study I. 2012. 

Steel, brass, gearmotor, plexiglass, toothbrushes, oil paint. 60x32x23 inches. 

An Understanding of the HabitualStudy II. 2012. 
Steel, brass, gearmotor, concrete glass. 34x7x52 inches. 

An Understanding of the Habitual. Study III. 2012. 
Steel, brass, gearmotor, alabaster. 26x8x25 inches. 

An Understanding of the Habitual. Study IV. 2013. 
Steel, brass, gearmotor, paraffin wax. 46x20x36 inches 

An Understanding of the Habitual. Study V. 2013. 
Steel, brass, gearmotor, solder, latex, paint. 72x21x96 inches. 


I make kinetic sculptures.  My machines, in some reinvented way, replicate trivial functions. The actions that they reproduce is their livelihood; working steadily and repetitively in order to create. Although their purposes seem peripheral and their products seem disposable, in each recurring motion there is life and certainty. With these machines, I am striving to emphasize the often frivolous and automatic character of human actions and experience. When our daily lives reduce us to creatures of habit, human agency is called into question. Conversely, these busy machines strangely posses markers of humanity: ambition, duty, and certainty.

Function is the blueprint for my finished forms. I build each piece with simple geometry and unfinished, unpolished steel, joined by brass welds. Exposing the construction is a central component of my machines; showing off every mechanism, motor, and weld reminds the viewer of the artist’s hand in each piece. I am not trying to hide anything—I want the viewer to know as much as I know. As the artist, I want to become vulnerable and exposed, and in doing so I want to implicate the viewer in this process as well. I want to begin to consider the mindless gestures that these motors fulfill.

After spending enough time with each of my machines, they have become more and more human; developing their own personalities based on their appearance and function. My machines have their own aspirations, failures, accomplishments, and fears. To me, they have transformed into living, breathing, embodiments of my own aspirations, failures, accomplishments, and fears. Although my machines attempt to continuously make art, they may not yet realize that they are, in and of themselves, art.

 -William Udell ‘13


William Udell
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Do It Tonight: Senior Art Exhibition | The Thrill

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