Arrastra is a mechanical sound installation that uses gears and cogs to activate a music box in the base of the structure. Using the antithesis of the engineer’s simple mechanical system - mechanical disadvantage - the work demands great and coordinated effort from multiple visitors in order for the work to actuate. Modeled after the arrastra, a device used by miners to crush ore by harnessing the power of mules revolving about a bin filled with gold ore, the visitors push a large wooden arm around a base connected with gears to a tiny music box, the gears essentially amplifying the resistance inherent in the music box’s crank. Arrastra investigates the absurdity of process, the interchange of status on a local level, and man as tool.
Arrastra does not allow listeners to experience the work unless at least one person pushes against the arm to actuate the device. Friction here is literal and visceral: the sweat on the brow, the grunting, the cursing when only a meager note emanates. It plays the visitor against their environment and the viewer against their own better self. Only sadistic pleasure can be had when the work plays: it is only at the expense of another that they are able to hear it in the first place. Thus, the experience is at once pleasurable and unnerving; for a psychopath, it is pure pleasure.