A Look at the Solar Do-Nothing Machine Posted August 21, 2019 by Marlow Hoffman

In this video walkthrough of Serious Play at the Denver Art Museum, explore Charles and Ray’s film Solar Do-Nothing Machine with Eames Office education director, Carla Hartman, and exhibition co-curator, Darrin Alfred.

The Eames Office took the opportunity to explore the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America with our education director, Carla Hartman, and the show’s co-curator, Darrin Alfred.

Alfred introduces us to a section of the exhibition focused on the Aluminum Company of America’s (Alcoa) forecast program. In the late ’50s, the company approached several designers, including Charles and Ray, to use aluminum in untraditional ways.

The Eameses created their Solar Do-Nothing Machine as part of this program. They filmed it in action, highlighting the color and whimsy that subtly belies its useful ability to convert sunlight into electrical energy.

Hartman says the film “evokes the whole notion that you can be colorful in your life.” She adds that even the pencil sketch for the project “has that wonderful feel of play and movement and spontaneity.” Discover more in the video above.

To continue exploring Serious Play through the eyes of Alfred and Hartman, watch these additional clips from our walkthrough: “Parade of toys,” “Exploring Tops,” and “What was so Special about Charles and Ray’s Clothing?

Serious Play is on view through August 25, 2019.