A few weeks ago, Brainiac highlighted a sculpture called “Point Cloud”—a sinuous lattice of wire and tiny motors whose slow movements reflected weather data in a very abstract way. Not long after the item ran, we got a surprising e-mail from sometime Ideas contributor Matthew Battles, now at the Harvard digital think tank metaLAB, who informed us that by the time we wrote about it, something terrible had already happened to “Point Cloud”: After an exhibit, he had found the sculpture badly damaged in a dumpster, “where it had been deposited by clueless contractors.”
In highlighting this sculpture, had we accidentally written about a ghost? As it turns out, yes. Reached by e-mail, the artist, James Leng, wrote: “I now have the remnants of it in my possession, the inner structure is largely intact, but to be honest it is pretty much beyond repair (I would be better off constructing a completely new version of it).” “Point Cloud” was Leng’s first foray into sculpture, and he estimates he sank about 800 hours into the piece, which existed for only two months. Now the sculpture survives as a pile in his workspace, and a lovely video on Vimeo.