In a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden, artist Bruce Shapiro invented the Sisyphus Machine, an elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. Shapiro, who was once a practicing physician, has spent the better part of 25 years experimenting with computerized motion control and many of his Sisyphus Machines have been installed in locations around the world including a large device in Switzerland back in 2003 and at Questacon in Canberra, Australia in 2013. It appears the artist is currently working on a tabletop consumer version and if you’re interested you can sign up for his mailing list here. (via Core77, Fast Company)
Several types of flowers are known to open and close for reasons of defense or energy conservation. This evolutionary mechanism, called nyctinasty, inspired Studio DRIFT to design the Shylight, a kinetic light fixture that opens dramatically during a 30 foot (9 meter) fall. The motion mimics the same action of a blooming flower or the billowing of a parachute. A collection of Shylights were just permanently installed at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and you can see them in action in the video above. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)
Although powered by simple rotary engines, these kinetic sculptures by Netherlands-based sculptor Jennifer Townley are dizzying in complexity. Repetitive patterns twist, merge, and cascade as individually sculpted elements rotate on a single axis, an intricate fusion of art and mathematics. From Townley’s artist statement:
The works derive from her fascination with science, with an emphasis on physics, engineering and mathematics. Geometric patterns in Islamic art or mathematical drawings of Dutch artist M. C. Escher often serve as an inspiration. Images where lines and figures match each other so perfectly they could be repeated indefinitely. This infinity, regularity and obedience is what Townley also finds fascinating about mechanical machines; they are robust, strenuous and seemingly immortal. She is captivated by how a machine can convert a simple circular motion (rotary engine) into a very complicated nonlinear or chaotic movement pattern.
You can see more of her work on her website and on Vimeo. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)
Silver Insecta Lamp, 2013. Metallic material, machinery, electronic device (cpu board, motor, led), resin, magnet. 16 1/2 × 9 1/10 × 14 3/5 in. Courtesy of the artist and GALLERY HYUNDAI, Seoul.
Gold Insecta Lamp, 2013. Metallic material, machinery, electronic device (cpu board, motor, led), resin, magnet. 16 1/2 × 9 1/10 × 14 3/5 in. Courtesy of the artist and GALLERY HYUNDAI, Seoul.
Korean sculptor U-Ram Choe (previously) builds kinetic sculptures embedded with CPUs, motors, and LEDs that appear to be equal parts organism and artwork. Seen here are two of his smallest works to date, a pair of insect-like lamps aptly titled Silver Insecta Lamp and Gold Insecta Lamp. When switched on, the lamps reveal an ornate set of five wing-like appendages that cycle through a gentle flapping motion. You can see how they work in the video above. All photos courtesy Gallery Hyundai. (via Artsy)
Bot Potts, via M.A.D.Gallery
Working out of his one-man workshop inside a mid-19th century barn, artist Bob Potts (previously) builds wonderous kinetic sculptures that replicate the motions of birds, fish, or other natural motions. The 72-year-old artist utilizes hand-crafted gears, levers, cranks, and chains to create these minimalist pieces that are focused solely on motion rather than ornamentation. Each piece can consume nearly a year’s worth of labor in his upstate New York shop where he works without the aid of computer, instead relying on decades of carpentry and skills learned while collaborating with painter and sculptor George Rhoads.
You can learn much more about his work over at M.A.D.Gallery. The videos above were shot and edited by Bryan Root from Motherlode Pictures.
Kinetic sculptor Anthony Howe (previously) has created a number of new kinetic artworks since we featured his work here last year. The artist works with specialized software to first mockup each piece digitally before fabricating the individual components from metal. The motion you see is generated completely by the wind, with even the slightest breeze setting the dozens of rotating components in action. You can see more of his recent work on his YouTube channel.
Partially inspired by Erik Åberg’s interlocking kinetic cube system Ghostcubes, Brasil-based origami artist Jo Nakashima created a method for building a similar object using a system of 40 paper cubes. For those of you ambitious enough to give it a try he shared a set of instructions on Instructables. Just 45 steps!
If you’re not familiar with Nakashima, he runs the most popular instructional origami channel on YouTube, with some of his videos racking up over 13 million views. (via Instructables)