Non-euclidean juggling

Saturday 18 November 2006

Greg Kennedy calls himself an innovative juggler, and he is right. A friend sent me his video of juggling in a cone, and it is very cool. It made me think about the physics of juggling. Juggling works because you throw a ball, and it comes back to you. With most juggling, the force that returns it to you is simple gravity. You throw the ball up, it comes back down.

What Greg has realized is that there are ways to construct other environments in which the returning force is different. In his cone, the balls are constrained to orbit him circularly, so that the return can be horizontal rather than vertical. In Hemisphere, the balls oscillate hypnotically in a large transparent bowl, and in Triad, three balls are tethered together somehow, so that they perform a complex interconnected dance.

Being mathematically inclined, this all reminds me of non-euclidean geometry, where the old assumptions about how a geometric system had to work were challenged. By changing one fundamental principle, new systems were developed that obeyed the remaining principles, but with radically different results.


Michael Wexler 5:17 PM on 18 Nov 2006

This was interesting, but seemed very derivative of what Michael Moschen has been doing since the 90s. A friend of the modern clown/mimes Bill Irwin and Bob Berky, he saw juggling as kinetic art and modern dance, and experimented with constrained surroundings (for example, the cone looks similar to the pyramid juggling I saw Moschen do in 2000).

So, yes, talented guy, but its worth giving some props to those who so obviously influenced him.


Ned Batchelder 5:59 PM on 18 Nov 2006

D'oh! I was going to mention Michael Moschen in the post, and completely forgot! Thanks for providing the link.

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