Desert geometry

Aggiornato il: 5 lug 2019

"Desert geometry" was displayed during the Research Sharing in February.

This work is the development of "Testing Spirograph" (Link on the post below).

The intriguing part is the rotatory movement of the cogs that engaging with the attached magnet and sand create an interactive piece.

Inside this work there are concepts of endless rotatory movement, unity though points and lines, magnetic forces that drive a metal sphere to pursue its track, sound of a cracking metal sphere, and for sure others to our fantasy.

Materials used:

- metal sphere 7mm diameter

- acrylic tray 30 x 30 cm

- aquarium white sand

- MDF mechanism cut by laser

- rotatory motor


A. ring gear

B. planet gear

C. rotatory platform underneath

The planet gear is fixed with a pivot point (nail) to the rotatory platform underneath (C.). The nail allows the planet gear (B.) to rotate on itself guided by the ring gear (A.)

On top has been positioned the sand tray with the metal sphere onto it.

The metal sphere starts to rotate and pushed tracing a path. After some seconds the overall route can be seen as the sphere starts to re pass and re enforce the same line.

Video of the mechanism underneath the sand tray:

During the Research Sharing some friend's visited with their children.

I can say that "Desert Geometry" was their most appealing piece as they were staring and playing with the sand, touching it, moving the metal ball somewhere else reconnecting with its path.

For some minutes we could not hear the children anymore as they were quietly interacting with the work.

This piece lit up a fascinating subject: Jungian Sandtherapy.

Dora Kalff founded the International Society of Sandplay Therapists and in her website has described the aim of Sandplay:

"In Sandplay the goal is to invite the unconscious to direct the process.  To this end the therapist neither interprets or directs, but holds the space so the unconscious can feel free to work.  We may not know what is needed for healing but the unconscious does.  It will take us there given the opportunity and because the client sees the figures, the conscious mind is also at work."

In an on line article, Dr. Helen Gogarty reports a Dora Kalff' paragraph:

"She taught that the Sandtray, the objects and the therapeutic holding provide a ‘free and protected space' within which self healing can take place. The healing is guided by the child's psyche, rather than by the therapist."

The Sand play therapy is a wide and very interesting topic, it will be certainly a theme of my interest.

An unaspected theme that came up was the noise. A cracking sound made by the metal sphere rotating trough and on the sand.

Some people found it intriguing, me personally listening to it or a while I found it quite disturbing however, it depends on where the piece would it be sit, in which context.


Experimentation with planetary gears has been an interesting tangent for my work, and one which I may return to in the future.

Desert Geometry has potential to become a domestic object for everybody.

More studies on Sand therapy have to be made however, from a phenomenological approach it seems to engage people in an intimate way.

The concept of contemplation is this work is highly apparent.

Related post links:

Testing Spirograph

External sources:

Program that generate automatic boxes to send to laser cut

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