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Link - article by M. Christian and Avi Abrams

If this page could move in tune with these sculptures, it would crawl out of your computer monitor

There are mentions in the Bible about the whirling "wheels within wheels" (Ezekiel 1:16). Admittedly the examples listed below are no match for what Heaven and angels can put together, but some of the following "living, breathing" kinetic work are clearly bordering on genius.

(images credit: Theo Jansen)

Without a doubt, with no hyperbole: Theo Jansen is an absolute genius. Listen to his talk about the new creatures he builds from "plastic tubes and lemonade bottles"...

Vermeer, Leeuwenhoek, Huygens... in this company of other talented Dutchmen, Theo Jansen is a sculptor: he creates, from his own mind and imagination, intricate mechanisms. There have been other sculptors who've created work that moves – and there will be again – but what makes Theo’s work so amazing, so blindingly brilliant, is that his creations walk, stroll, stride, amble... and live almost "independent" from their creator on a deserted beach.

Instead of being powered by primitive steam or modern electricity, Theo’s creations are propelled by the air, by wind. They are strolling clipper ships, sauntering sailboats. (A well-known video of these creatures in motion can be seen here)

Just watch them -- they’re hypnotic, dreamy. Undulating beasts marching along the seaside, elaborate mechanisms walking through the surf spray ….


The natural algorithms... and the energy of prayer

First about prayer - rather, prayer wheels in Tibet - which will generate "green" (meaning absolutely free and clean) energy every time someone spins the wheel, which will be quite a lot: there are millions of tourists and locals visiting this location. Read more about it here:

(images credit: Inhabitat)

From this supernatural aspect (really, just ingenious mechanics), we move to Nature's geometric forms and surprising algorithms, stating with so-called Voronoi-Knauss cell cluster (more info):

(image credit: Spiegel)

Intriguingly called Transphormetic site reveals more kinetic animations and forms, based on natural algorithms:

(images via 1, 2)

"The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds." (Theo Jansen)

Theo Jansen is not the only magnificently original artist out there doing things with gears and pulleys and wire and leverage. Many other artist/engineers are working on a wide range of ways to mix mechanical joints with organic precision to create devices that walk like living creatures -- though whether those creations are as whimsical as Jansen's is open to debate.

"The Vex Walker" robot is going to be available as a kit, so anybody can built this and set it free in your kitchen:

(image via)

An even greater kinetic marvel is the "Walking Beast", (a.k.a. "Mechanical Spider"), which makes frequent appearances at the Burning Man Festival.

(images credit: Tristan Savatier, MoltenSteelMan)

The same company also offers the miniature Steam Spider, and much bigger Mondo Spider vehicle:

(image credit: Mechanical Spider)

These beasts utilize a mechanical linkage principle different from Theo Jansen's, called the Klann linkage. See the comparison of the two on this page

BMW Museum in Munich has recently unveiled the groovy "floating chrome balls" kinetic sculptures (watch the long, soothing video here) The balls are seemingly weightless, and glued together by the "power of the mind", according to the creators ART+COM:

(image via)

The similar kinetic work by Joe Gilbertson can be seen here.

Arthur Ganson's machines are quite varied, utilizing all sorts of bizarre objects (like a chicken wish bone) - see the catalog here -

(images credit: Arthur Ganson)

We featured art of Andrew Smith before, but his kinetic sculptures are also top-of-the-line, so don't forget to browse his "Kinetic" gallery and watch the video:

(image credit: Andrew Smith)

Steampunk monster outside your office...

We covered one truly spectacular group, based in Nantes: La Machine on Dark Roasted Blend before. Lead by François Delarozière, this team of engineers and artists has created some truly awesome devices for various amazing events:

(images credit: David Mayo, Matthew Andrews, La Machine)

Recently, for instance, a 37-ton spider descended down the side of a building in Liverpool, in the United Kingdom. To say that the sight of this nightmarish creature took the city by surprise is an understatement.

Entrancing... dazzlingly hypnotic

Since we’re chatting about amazing mechanical/artistic creations, we have to mention the artist Frederick Roland Emett. Sure, you can point to Rube Goldberg, who certainly deserves praise, but Frederick Roland Emett has a leg up on Goldberg for his incredibly diverse work (more info).

Not only are his illustrations wild, fanciful, and outrageous but he also created many insanely elaborate sculptures and creations. Looking like Willy Wonka’s hallucinations, or Dr. Suess' nightmares, Emett’s sculptures have an entrancing craziness that’s dazzlingly hypnotic:

"The S.S. (Space Ship) Pussiewillow II", on display at Smithsonian

"The Vintage Car of the Future", on display at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, photo courtesy Jeff Powell, via

"The Little Dragon Vacuum" and the "Humbug Major sweet machine", via

(images credit: Chris Browns Emmett Site)

The covers of his books often were just as fascinating:

(images credit: Chris Browns Emmett Site)

Creating something beautiful and wonderful takes one kind of skill, but to bring it to mechanical life – well, that takes genius.

P.S. Want to become your own kinetic sculpture?

Climb inside this "Inner Balance" sphere... and start walking:

(image credit: drossel-design.de)

Also Read:
Wicked Wearable Sculptures
Sculptural Weirdness in Public Places



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Blogger Uncle Staple said...

the Voronoi-Knauss cell cluster looks like the coat hangers in the bottom of my closet.

Anonymous Jeremy said...

I have open-source plans for a Jansen Walker up on my site, if anyone wants to build their own check out http://4volt.com/projects/jansen/

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to make a sequel, i strongly suggest a post about a guy named Jean Tinguély. Friend and lover of Niki de St Phalle.

Anonymous RCon said...

For amazing kinetic sculptures, check out Seattle artist Casey Curran.


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