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Gerd Stern

German/American, b. 1928


American, b. 1964

Triple Diffraction Hex

Surplus IBM parts, diffraction gratings, circuitry, playwood, board, brass eagle
32 x 20 x 18.75 in. (81.28 x 50.8 x 47.625 cm)
Gift of George R. Wanlass

USCO (Company of US) is a collective of mainly artists, poets, filmmakers, and engineers that formed in the fall of 1964. However, the principle artists involved with making Triple Diffraction Hex are Gerd Stern and Michael Callahan. As artist and USCO member Dion Wright writes, “The aim of USCO was to have a mutual association without an executive head on it; a true brotherhood of equal opportunity from which visionary projects might emerge by general agreement and a sort of spontaneous combustion.”

Created a year after the formation of USCO, Triple Diffraction Hex is one of the earliest examples of a sculptural object that combines strobe lights and electronics with words. The letters, funkily constructed in a strangely prescient way that resembles digital signage, intermittently spell out NO, OW, NOW—a kind of koan that the poet/artist Gerd Stern frequently uses in his work. The red, white, and blue colors with the flashing strobe, spinning diffraction discs, and words combine to offer a moment of both sensory overload and contemplation.

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