Tim Scofield: Art & Technology in Motion

Tim Scofield is humble about his team being the only local act returning to Light City Baltimore this year. The large-scale kinetic sculpture — a metal peacock named “Charlie” — that he and fellow sculptor, Kyle Miller, constructed, was the crowd favorite in 2016. One year on, after receiving repeated requests to see “Charlie” again, festival organizers invited Scofield and his collaborators to bring “Charlie” back for a second appearance.

Scofield hails from Northern Illinois and ran the metal shop and casting foundry at MICA for eight years, in addition to teaching in the College’s undergraduate sculpture program. He is no stranger to large-scale artworks that require solid structural knowledge and technical know-how. With 15 years’ experience under his belt, he has been providing custom design and fabrication services out of his Exeter Street studio, producing sculptures, aerial performance apparatus, custom designed furniture and props for video production.

“Charlie” is an automated peacock fitted with 15,000 LEDs on its “tail.” The lights controlled wirelessly via an iPad. A motor that Scofield and Miller adapted from a 16-ton log splitter opens and closes the bird’s feathers. When fully extended, the plume measures a good 40 feet wide and 20 feet tall.

Scofield says that even though they are showing at Light City for the second time, pulling all the components together for an artwork this big is like putting on a performance. “It does not happen overnight. One can fall short if you don’t have good structural knowledge and an understanding of how everything is going to work.”

Pioneering collaborations between artists and technological innovators, such as that for “Charlie,” is an important element of Light City. In fact, the sculpture would not have been possible had Scofield and Miller not have the electronic expertise of light technicians Steve Dalnekoff and Will Cocks, who were key to “giving life” to “Charlie.”

He concedes that in the contemporary art world, few artists can go at it alone anymore; working with peers from other mediums is almost necessary.

“Working with light technology is quite a departure from what we are used to,” Scofield admits. “But we have learnt a lot in the past year about how art and technology can come together to present a performance piece beyond a static sculpture.”