Mechanics and motion have always fascinated me. During college I studied physics, engineering and chemistry to further my understanding of how things worked. I graduated with a degree in physics from Boston University in 1974. This intuitive understanding of motion and mechanics combined with the artistic influences of my wife, Marji, led me to the creation of kinetic sculptures.
His work really needs to be seen in motion to be appreciated:
Kinetic Rain by ART + COM is a moving installation piece at Singapore Changi Airport.
About the project:
In the course of refurbishment works ART+COM was commissioned to create a signature art installation for the Departure-Check-in hall of Terminal 1 at Singapore Airport. Kinetic Rain is composed of two parts, each consisting of 608 rain droplets made of lightweight aluminum covered with copper. Suspended from thin steel ropes above the two opposing escalators, each droplet is moved precisely and seemingly floating by a computer-controlled motor hidden in the halls ceiling. The drops follow a 15-minute, computationally designed choreography where the two parts move together in unison, sometimes mirroring, sometimes complementing, and sometimes responding to each other.
Shylight is a light hidden in a cocoon. It is based on the natural process by which flowers attract and repel pollen-gathering bees. It falls out of its ëcocoon, opens its petaals and floats down to show all its splendor. At the slightest danger Shylight flips up and retreats into its shell.
You can see it in all its kinetic splendor in this video:
Charybdis by William Pye is an installation with a spinning vortex that can be observed from multiple levels.
About the piece:
The sirens Charybdis and Scylla resided in the Sicilian Sea. Homer tells us that because Charybdis had stolen the oxen of Hercules, Zeus struck her with a thunderbolt and changed her into a whirlpool whose vortex swallowed up ships. In Charybdis the circular movement of water inside a transparent acrylic cylinder forms an air-core vortex in the centre. Steps wrap around the cylinder and allow spectators to view the vortex from above.
How it works:
An air-core vortex is generated within a circular dish. Water rises and falls within the dish in a cyclic program of water activity. When the system is full and flowing over the perimeter and down the sides, the top surface is comparatively flat and smooth, only broken by the vortex in the middle. However, as the level drops, the body of water seems to take on a life of its own, increasingly rocking and swaying as its volume diminishes unaided by any outside force.
The high-tech sculpture, called Architect’s Eye, is a smooth and reflective spherical structure emulating the human eyeball as its focus shifts from the sky to the ground to the rest of its surrounding area, with the pupils effectively dilating and contracting. The iris of the eye also has the mesmerizing ability to change color…The sculpture is ultimately meant to symbolize an architect’s most valuable organs (eyes) and the ability to discern visual designs throughout history and all walks of life around us.
Quayola and Memo Akten have collaborated to create a multiscreen digital artwork for the exhibition In the Blink of an Eye: Media and Movement, which is part of the Cultural Olympiad programme. Taking the raw data collected from athletes in motion, they have created beautiful and complex moving abstractions that seem to capture the very essence of their power and grace. This generative animation and interactive installation will display at the Museum from 9 March – 2 September.
About the project:
Forms is a series of studies on human motion, and its reverberations through space and time. It is inspired by the works of Eadweard Muybridge, Harold Edgerton, Étienne-Jules Marey as well as similarly inspired modernist cubist works such as Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase No.2″. Rather than focusing on observable trajectories, it explores techniques of extrapolation to sculpt abstract forms, visualizing unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings. The project investigates athletes; pushing their bodies to their extreme capabilities, their movements shaped by an evolutionary process targeting a winning performance. Traditionally a form of entertainment in todays society with an overpowering competitive edge, the disciplines are deconstructed and interrogated from an exclusively mechanical and aesthetic point of view; concentrating on the invisible forces generated by and influencing the movement. The source for the study is footage from the Commonwealth Games. The process of transformation from live footage to abstract forms is exposed as part of the interactive multi-screen artwork, to provide insight into the evolution of the specially crafted world in which the athletes were placed.
Since this is a project all about movement, it can’t really be fully appreciated until seen in motion:
Wave of Matter by the design duo Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen is a kinetic art piece that sends thousands of ball bearings cascading across a mechanical table that tips from side to side. It was a hit at the recent Armory Show in New York where visitors were mesmerized by the fluid motion of the balls and the soothing wave-like sounds they generated.
This piece is a continuation of Grönlund-Nisunen’s exploration of the visualization of motion, energy and space. They have been working together since 1993 in the fields of architecture, art and music.
Leo Villareal does amazing light sculptures that pulse and flash in hypnotic patterns. According to New York Times reviewer Ken Johnson “There should be benches. You just want to sit and gaze in blissful stupefaction at Volume” (pictured top).
There’s more to his work than just pretty flashing lights. He described his process to CNET News:
“My work is focused on stripping systems down to their essence to better understand the underlying structures and rules that govern how they work,” Villareal told CNET News. “I am interested in lowest common denominators such as pixels or the zeros and ones in binary code. Starting at the beginning, using the simplest forms, I begin to build elements within a framework. My work explores not only on the physical but adds the dimension of time combining both spatial and temporal resolution. My forms move, change, interact and ultimately grow into complex organisms.
‘Inspired by mathematician John Conway’s work with cellular automata and the Game of Life, I seek to create my own sets of rules,” he continued. “Central to my work is the element of chance. The goal is to create a rich environment in which emergent behavior can occur without a preconceived outcome. I am an active participant, serving as editor in the process through careful selection of compelling sequences.”
To really appreciate his work you need to see it in motion. Here are videos of the pieces pictured above:
Happening across his work can be a stupefying experience, as it was for this author, since typically invisible or unobservable forces are felt as immediate, bodily experiences, as natural effects, which are only later discovered to have been artificially constructed. The planet’s complex, random and aleatory perturbations become manifested visually, tactilely and acoustically in his work. At times he re-creates environmental conditions in controlled settings, and at other times, he lets nature animate his works. Across the breadth of his work, the artist expertly choreographs natural phenomena – a skill more often attributed to gods or supernatural entities than to humans. For example, in the Babylonian Creation Myth, Marduk defeats Tiamat by forcing wind into her belly; other examples include Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind and the Lakota Creation Myth.1 Kahn combines science, art and technology to integrate natural, human, and artificial systems, and his specific works emphasise natural elements, such as water, fire, wind and sand; how these behave independently, and how they interact.
Artist Shih Chieh Huang spent a good part of 2007 exploring specimens of deep-ocean animals as a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow. He was particularly interested in the unusual evolutionary adaptations that allow these creatures to live in environments unthinkable to humans. One of those adaptations, luminescence, has become a major inspiration for several of his recent exhibitions.
If you hurry, you can still see Shih Chieh Huang’s most recent large-scale, multi-media installation project called Luminosity (pictured above) in Louisville, KY from September 23 to October 24 at the Land of Tomorrow Gallery. If you can’t make it to that exhibition, you can look for his exhibition The Bright Beneath at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History until January 8, 2012.
Here’s a video of one of his earlier installations:
Naum Gabo created these paintings to illustrate from his 1959 lectures on color, Of Divers Arts. Though they are beautiful on their own, I think they become even more beautiful when you understand what they represent.
From the Gabo lecture:
“All colors, even in their seemingly identical hues, have a different identity in our vision of them. One and the same color acts differently on different surfaces. Colors change with the change of their place in space or on a surface, and their identity also varies with the time at which they appear in the field of our vision. They change not only according to the neighboring color—a fact by now known to every schoolboy—but in relation to the frame of our vision and its axis, i.e., to right or left of the axis, and up or down from it”