Kinetic Art and Sculpture
Kinetic Art and Sculpture
Kinetic art is defined as any art that either contains movement as a part of its operation (i.e. a water sculpture featuring cascading water) or depends upon motion when it comes to affecting the viewer’s perception. Kinetic art often utilizes our ability to perceive in three dimensions, and many kinetic artists produce pieces that produce optical illusions or otherwise change our perception of the objects being displayed. In its current form, most kinetic art today features kinetic sculptures which utilize motion (generally relying on wind motion, gravity, water, or some combination thereof) in order to operate. That is, viewing a kinetic sculpture at rest or viewing a photograph of a single frame of its operation would not give the same effect. The kinetic sculpture cannot be separated from its motion.
Other artists use optical illusions more frequently, choosing to sculpt static objects and providing directions to the gallery viewer to aid in the perception of movement. As the perspective of the gallery viewer changes (for example, when walking by or around a sculpture) the object appears to move. Often, kinetic artists want to take advantage of a particular optical phenomenon, impressing viewers with an elegant sculpture but also teaching them about how their bodies work. Gallery viewers may be provided with instructions at a given artist’s production, or they may be left to uncover the mechanism of the sculpture alone.
Three-dimensional art like kinetic sculpture has its roots in paintings and drawings that attempted to recreate some of the same optical phenomena. Long has our interest been captivated by the curve of the horizon, mirages, parallax vision, and other optical trickery that combines to form the whole of human vision. Yet exploring our optical limits is not enough for some kinetic artists. These sculptors seek to pair optical phenomena with natural rhythms and mechanical principles, featuring kinetic sculpture that adheres to things like the human heartbeat and the motion of the ocean’s tides. These sculptures are often considerably more complex, as they involve components that allow the sculpture to move in perpetuity (or as close to perpetuity as the artist can achieve) using gravity or wind to replicate its motion as exactly as possible during each rotation. Over the coming decades, we will likely see considerable growth in the kinetic sculpture community due to three-dimensional printing, a technology that even in its infancy gives artists the tools they need to machine individual parts and tweak designs through software before they are rendered in three dimensions by the machine. 3D printing has the potential to bring kinetic sculpture out of the museum and / or local gallery and into the home.
Keywords: kinetic art, art movement, three-dimensional, kinetic sculpture, optical, motion, gallery, artists, gravity