Fall 2005

Artist Project / “Inspyre” and “Love”

Kevin Okada a.k.a. Kevino­­

INSPYRE
Calling to mind an octopus, Inspyre’s graceful movements are driven by a counter-rotating “motor” located at the center of the model. Made up from simple cogs, motors are now a widely used design element in the sodaplay world. This one is constructed from two square cogs rotating in opposite directions. Kevino has timed the major “muscle” springs so that each one contracts for a quarter of the cycle of the sine wave that acts as the clock within the soda-universe. To this central mechanism, four tentacle-like fronds have been appended, their undulations invoking an undeniably organic quality.
LOVE
Kevino has also been one of the innovators of a sodaplay mechanism known as “pre-tensioned flex linkages” or “flex chains,” a technology he has exploited to make models that resemble psychedelic jellyfish and hypnotic mechanical butterflies. Like Inspyre, Love is also driven by a central motor. This time, however, the basic mechanism is enhanced by two arm-like structures that impart a kind of swimming motion. “It’s almost like doing the breaststroke,” says Okada. “The arms reach out in front and then snap back, pulling the mechanism in again.” The flex chains themselves act like streamers. Because each point mass has a virtual weight, the chain has an inherent inertia, which causes the elegant trailing motion.

Kevin Okada, a.k.a. Kevino, is one of the most innovative sodaconstructors and the architect of a startling range of models including the enigmatic forms, Inspyre, Love, and Buggerfly. Offline, Okada is a resident of the San Fernando Valley who works as the purchasing manager for the Aussie Racing Apparel company. As a child, he was obsessed with Tinker Toy constructions and once built a Tinker Toy digging machine driven by the motor from a discarded cassette player. At 43, Okada is twice, or triple, the age of most soda-players, who tend to be high school and college students. A gallery of Kevino’s models can be seen online at the website of the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts: www.nesta.org.uk/inspireme/soda/sodaplay.htm [link defunct—Eds.].