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A Very, Very, Very Delicate Balance

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
January 5, 2013

His name, ironically, is Michael Grab. It should be Michael B. Careful. He is an artist, a balancer of rocks. How he did this, I don’t know. Don’t stop watching.

Last July, Michael decided to give himself a five-minute deadline — five minutes from the moment he turned on the camera till he got a finished sculpture. In this case, he not only beat his deadline; he was able, he says, “to capture the creation and natural collapse of the balance before the five-minute limit.”

But how? How does he do it? First, he says, you’ve got to “know the rocks.” I think this is a Zen thing. Or maybe a sculptor’s thing. In his YouTube commentary, he explains what happens next:

“Notice the technique of bracing the lower rocks while placing the next top rock acts as a pin to stabilize the whole structure, which is why it is very helpful to use a LARGE rock on top. plus, i like the overall design balance that the large top rock adds. and i love shades of red. as soon as i found that red rock, i knew it must go on top. it was a beautiful rock. :) contemplate, try it for yourself. all about presence in the moment. SLOW down. become the balance. :)”

My sense? I think the man’s got great hands, hands that can feel the exact weight of a stone and a mind that can concentrate and somehow get inside these stones and, as he puts it, “Become the balance.” I think Michael, when he does this, crosses the line between animal and mineral. For a brief time, he is what he builds.

If you want to see the crazy things Mr. Grab can do, look here. As it happens, our Radiolab podcast this week is also a meditation on stones. We kick ours. (In order to find out what — deep, deep down — rocks are made of. Not atoms, not protons, electrons, not quarks, says our guest writer, Jim Holt. He thinks rocks are made of “math.” We then throw things at each other. You might want to listen.) [Copyright 2013 National Public Radio]

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