Possibility’s of Kinetic Sculpture

The earliest Kinetic Sculpture I saw as a child was in Horsham high street. Rising Universe, more commonly known to locals as Shelley Fountain, or by the artist as Cosmic Cycle was a large kinetic water sculpture created by the artist Angela Conner. As stated on her website, Cosmic Cycle is…

“45ft plaza feature consisting of four satellite water mobiles and one 28ft high centre piece. Sphere rises and falls with weight of the water, dispensing a torrent of 7 ½ tons of water in a rhythmic cycle.” (Conner, A, 1996)

Angela Conner, Cosmic Cycle, 1996, Mixed Media Kinetic Sculpture











I remember, as a child, standing and waiting for the water to cascade out of the bottom, even though I was slightly terrified of it. It was an incredibly overpowering piece of art, that was not only visual, but the sound of 7 and a half tonnes of water gushing down into the basin and the force would beat it way though your chest. I didn’t understand it as art when I was a young child, it wasn’t until I was older, I could appreciate it as a kinetic sculpture. It was removed in 2016 as the council deemed it to have completed its life within the town centre, i’m not sure how true this is, or if the real reason it got removed was because teenagers kept filling the basin with bottles of washing up liquid!

I have only recently looked into Conner as an artist, and it was interesting to find this statement about the way she thinks about and constructs her sculptures;

“Working with whatever materials suit her idea, Conner’s mobile sculptures move with water, tip in the wind, play with gravity, light, and shadow. Mirroring natural forces, they seek to evoke in their viewer the feelings experienced in the increasingly rare moments when one slows down and engages with our surroundings.” (Conner, 2013)

Other works of Conner’s often include the use of these natural materials and forces spoken about, especially wind and water. The smooth movements of Conner’s work is something I can connect and identify with, the very slight movement of sculptures and objects can evoke feelings of calmness but also uneasiness. Her work is aesthetically engaging and makes you asses the space around you and the space you are inhibiting, even though, most of the time, this space is vast and outside. 

One of the possibility’s of kinetic sculpture is that is has the ability to make you extremely aware of the space it surrounds, which you as the viewer are inhibiting. Not only though movement, but also though scale. Secondly, kinetic sculpture changes the properties of a once static object/sculpture. As soon as movement is invited into a sculpture, the viewer can instantly feel connected to the piece of work in an anthropomorphic way. All movement throughout the world is spoken about in relation to the human body and how we move, whether this is a choice or not, its something we all do, and by doing so, a kinetic sculpture can evoke different feelings to a static, non-moving sculpture.

Discovering the Kinetic within my Practice

Exploring Kinetic art is not a process I thought I would be going through on my MA course, in fact, I thought I would still be dealing with kitting and installation art, at first I found it difficult to see how I got to this point, but after some back ready through photos and sketchbooks I have been able to discover the clear connection and stepping stones I used to get to this point. 

Movement (2017) is a selection of short clips I have put together, displaying just a few pieces of work I explored last summer and how they where affected by movement. 

Ultimately, every piece of work in this video has been spun or moved by hand and left to continue rotating, because of this, the work couldn’t be called kinetic art, as it only was whilst I physically moved it. 

Definition of Kinetic Art;

“Kinetic art is a term that today most often refers to three-dimensional sculptures and figures such as mobiles that move naturally or are machine operated. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor or the observer.”

After reading this statement, I realized my interest in kinetic art can be drawn further back than summer 2017. My final piece for my Fine Art Degree in 2016 was an installation that moved as the doors where opened near the work, and as the viewer walked through and around the hanging structures. This allowed the work to be powered by both the wind and the observer. 

Kinetic Rain (A Ballet of Raindrops) 2012

Kinetic Rain is an installation piece in Changi Airport, this beautiful kinetic installation is composed of 608 aluminium raindrops covered in copper. Each raindrop is individually moved by complicated computerised system that tracks each raindrops movement through the 20 minute cycle. There are 2 halves to the installation that sometimes mirror, sometimes compliment, and sometimes respond to each other through their physical movement. This piece of work is elegant and eye catching, I have studied the shape of the sculptures and the similarities and differences between the aluminium casts and my work, I have also studied the movement and the potential of this movement within my work. I have also found it important to evaluate what movement is uncanny and what movement is sublime. Once I have established these thoughts, I can progress to think about the movement within my own installations. 

Reading to take forward;

Force Fields. Phases of the Kinetic Published for the Hayward Gallery Exhbition, 2000

Being Alive: essays on movement, knowledge and description, Tim Ingold, 1948