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Pin Drop
By Carolyn Wren

On exhibit in the Avenue Ballroom from 1 – 31 January 2024

Faced with a glut of technology, people have become addicted to the chime of their phones, the clicking of their computers, and the droning of their video games. Ours is a noisy world of vehicles on highways and sirens wailing. And a place where loud restaurants are on trend. We rarely experience silence. Even in the stillness of nature, we hear the rustle of leaves in the wind, the crack of a falling branch, the baby merlin’s screech. Anxiety levels are peaking. 

Pin Drop is a kinetic sculpture that animates inanimate material. The machine is in full view. The common straight pin, designed to hold pieces of fabric together, is dropped from this specially-designed machine hung from the ceiling. Then, second(s) later, another drops. A pile of pins accumulates beneath the machine. Perhaps the viewer hears the first few pins as they bounce or roll on the floor. The machine is not silent; it whirs and hums as the pins nose-dive into an ever-increasing mound. It uses the laws of physics to make the pins drop: centrifugal force, gravity, magnetism – nature’s most powerful and ubiquitous forces. It labours to create the sound of stillness. The machine becomes a work of art and the pins are simply the result of nature’s forces.

With this artwork, viewers are confronted with the present — forced to let go of the past and the future — but they are cast in the role of observer while searching inwardly for meaning. This contemplative space is fragile yet serene, a presence that emanates peace. Yet the pins, these small daggers, fall not far from the viewer, collecting in a conical pile on the floor below the machine — like a temple. To confront fear is to encounter the divine.

In the search for peace, we learn that there is no quietude. No vacuum of sound. Over the course of the exhibition, the pins build up at various angles until the pile becomes a shrine to silence. Approximately 2 million pins will drop over the course of the exhibit.

Thirteen years since its conception and four years in the making with the collaboration of mechanical engineers, Pin Drop is the culmination of science, engineering, imagination, meditation, and creativity.

Pin Drop is by Carolyn Wren with Corey Smith P.Eng. and is supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

This project is presented by the Niagara Artists Centre with the cooperation and assistance from lead supporter Rodman Art Institute of Niagara, and venue sponsor Avenue Ballroom.

Carolyn Wren

On display in the
Window of Avenue Ballroom
7 James Street
St. Catharines ON

Pins drop from 12NN-9PM until 31 January 2024