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Alexander Calder's mobile goes virtual in today's Google doodle

July 22, 2011 | 11:00 am

GoogleDoodle

Alexander Calder's work, honored in today's whimsical Google doodle, is instantly recognizable. He's the guy who makes mobiles for grown ups.

This particular doodle is extra cool not just because it sways gently in a virtual wind (although that's pretty freaking cool), but because, as software engineer Jered Wierzbicki writes on the Official Google Blog, the creation of this Google is almost like a collaboration between two artists--one who worked in wire and sheet metal, the other who works in code.

As Wierzbicki writes:

Last year I wandered into a white room at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago full of Alexander Calder’s delicate “objects,” all beautifully balanced and proportioned, moving gently in the air currents like a whimsical metal forest. Calder took ordinary materials at hand—wire, scraps of sheet metal—and made them into brilliant forms, letting space and motion do the rest. As an engineer, I work with abstractions, too, so this really struck me.

But you kind of want to play with the things. They do not let you do that at museums.

So I coded up a very basic demo of a mobile and showed it to a friend, who showed it to one of our doodlers—and then this amazing thing happened: talented artists and engineers who liked the idea just started to help! What we ended up with is way cooler than anything I could have built on my own. I’m proud to work for a company where an idea like this can actually happen.

(And you thought Google was getting less creative now that it's winding down Google Labs.)

If you'd like to know more about the artist, our sister blog Culture Monster provides some good context and links. You can also check out the Calder Foundation's website.

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--Deborah Netburn

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