About the Pendulum: 'Foucault's Dream'

The pendlum inside the Froiland Science Complex.

Designed by Scott Parsons ‘87, associate professor of art at Augustana University, and Denver-based artist David Griggs, “Foucault’s Dream,” the pendulum positioned at the Froiland Science Complex’s north entrance within the staircases, has been called a “true blend of art and science” by Augustana officials. The project was supported thanks to a gift from Howard ‘50 and Eunice ‘50 Hovland.

Made from glass, bronze, epoxy terrazzo, LED lighting and stainless steel, the piece is 15.5 feet by 15.5 feet wide and stands 38 feet tall.

It took close to a year to complete with the help of fabricators Silo Workshop of Denver and Alpine Terrazzo of Florida. Parsons said the colors were selected intuitively from the cosmos. “The pendulum reminds us of our own movement in the universe — that we are in motion. Our inspirations and references include the Hoop Dance, the idea of a ‘cosmic clock,’ Fibonacci patterns in the floor and the connection to the Visual Arts Center floor, and modeling comet orbits and planetary rhythms.”

Parsons reflected on the project this fall:

"I am convinced where science and art share a connective thread are in the ways they point to the interconnectedness of all things. A thread that binds the mystery of life to the deep questions of one’s age and one’s discipline." 

Scott Parsons '87
Associate Professor of Art

"This thought reminds me now of the last line in the movie ‘Fannie and Alexander’ by Ingmar Bergman: ‘On the tenuous ground of reality, imagination spins out and weaves new patterns,’” Parsons said.

“This project was a joy and an easy one to design and collaborate on, as all the references are to my favorite places and things about the prairie, the sky, about what we do at Augie, and what I love about South Dakota. It was also wonderful to work with my friend and accomplished artist David Griggs.

“Credit should go to Darren Fujitani and Augustana’s Dr. Eric Wells (physics) who designed the pendulum mechanism which makes this a truly collaborative and wonderful project involving the sciences and the humanities. “

Justin Koepp of Electrical Construction Company, Brian Vander Aarde, and all the guys at Henry Carlson Company were of great help on the installation, especially Kyle Hubers and Chris Johnson. The architects at TSP Inc. were fantastic, as always too, especially Brian Heidbrink with his support, design and engineering.

“President Rob Oliver, Dr. Craig Spencer (biology) and Dr. Susan Hasseler, former SVP for academic aff airs, were each advocates for art in the new Froiland Science Complex. It wouldn’t have happened without their advocacy and support. Frank Hughes, director of facilities, oversaw planning and Tom Meyer, vice president for finance and administration, made it all happen so that it was done well and done right,” Parsons said.