Art Meets Science: Calderoids

Dodge and destroy Alexander Calder’s mobile constellations in
the cosmic spacecraft of Ed Logg’s Atari Asteroids!
PLAY | SCIENCE | ART

Blast Calder’s mobiles to a million brightly coloured bits! Instead of being a mere spectator to the play, irony, and humour of the toys in Calder’s Circus, or a spectator to the free play of the motion of Calder’s mobiles, in Calderoids you get to play with his art yourself when you climb in your spaceship and fly around his sculptures, laughing as you zap them to pieces!
Calderoids illustration

Few artists approached the world with as much of a sense of play as the inventor of mobiles: "Alexander Calder chose, aesthetically and morally, to play, to play for keeps at playing the game, because art at the time was a game or it was nothing. That’s how Calder understood it, and that’s how the best minds in that Paris which was a ‘moveable feast’ understood it as well" (Francisco Calvo Serraller, Gravity & Grace, 2004). Calder’s workshop would have found a home in the playland of the early Atari development lab: "Work is a word used very loosely at Atari. Most of the Atari employees I saw projected an aura of almost delirious bliss. They didn't seem to think of themselves as working. This isn't a company, I said to myself, it's a candy factory" (David Owen, Esquire, 1981).

Calder’s first major artwork was the animated Circus, a series of wire automata whose motion delighted and amused avant-garde Paris. Crashes between his abstract Circus forms foresee the cosmic conflagrations of Calderoids: "It was possible to move colored discs across the rectangle, or fluttering pennants, or cones; to make them dance, or even have battles between them. Some of them had large simple majestic movements, others were small and agitated" (Calder, Mobiles, 1937).

With mobiles, Calder plays with the fourth dimension of time: "Just as one can compose colors or forms, so one can compose motions" (Calder, Modern Painting and Sculpture, 1933). In Calderoids the gravity and grace of his mobiles arc through space with the zero-g elegance of Ed Logg’s spaceship: "Asteroids fulfilled the fantasy of being out in space, with no gravity, and free floating. The spaceship had a very elegant grace. A lot of motion in the game had grace, even the way the boulders floated around" (Rich Adam, original Atari programmer, The Atari Library).