Composing motion

I have known New Zealand artist Len Lye´s films for a long time, but was unaware of his kinetic sculptures until recently. I found the Universe sculpture from 1976 especially interesting. The Len Lye foundation did a remake of it in 1998, completely silent except for the sound made by the steel.

City of Sound did a nice post on Lye some years ago, and I will requote their Lye quote: “One of my art teachers put me onto trying to find my own art theory. After many morning walks an idea hit me that seemed like a complete revelation. It was to compose motion, just as musicians compose sound. [The idea] was to lead me far, far away from wanting to excel in traditional art.”

You can find several of Lye´s films by doing a search on youtube (although the quality isn´t very good), Free Radicals and Swinging the Lambeth Walk are two good examples of his work. What makes them really stand out today is the combination of the experimental nature of the visual side with the soundtracks of african drums and happy jazz.

There are two documentaries made on Lye, Doodlin´: Impressions of Len Lye, and A Flip and Two Twisters.

Addendum: There is also a third documentary about Lye (thanks Pip Chodorov)

Here is a an excerpt from the first one where you can see the Universe sculpture in action:

Roger Horrocks has written a biography on Lye, but it seems to be available only as a collector´s item at the moment. Horrocks has written a new book, Len Lye – ART THAT MOVES – which will be published by Auckland University Press in November 2009.

Here is a website which gives a good overview of the work of Lye.

Re-voir has a collection of Lye´s films on VHS (thanks again to Pip Chodorov).

And check out my quite extensive post on kinetic art.

moving objects


(photo:sloth by Lars Brunström)
The last two weeks has been dedicated to moving objects. First, Lawrence Malstaf gave a workshop, and this last week the swedish artist Lars Brunström was in Bergen, partly to teach at the academy, partly to help me with the prototype for an upcoming project.

Brunström gave a lecture about artists working with kinetic sculpture, showing examples from some well known and some lesser known artists.
I have collected some links to some of the artists he talked about, plus some other artists and projects related to kinetic art I have seen the last few years.

This list is by no means exhaustive (and it points in all directions), so if you think there are other artists who should be mentioned, leave a comment.

Alexander Calder (american)

inventor of the mobile (kinetic sculpture constructed to take advantage of the principle of equilibrium)
“There is more of the unpredictable about them than in any other human creation … A general destiny of movement is sketched for them, and then they are left to work it out for themselves.” — Sartre on Calder’s mobiles

calder links
wikipedia on calder
calder foundation

calder circus video filmed by Carlos Vilardebo in 1961
part 1
part 2

Jean Tinguely (Swiss)


self destruction machines, imperfect machines
wikipedia on Tinguely
installation at Jean Tingeuely museum Basel

paris, fountain and kinetic sculpture place Igor Stravinsky

P O Ultvedt (swedish)
video of an installation by Ultvedt

Rebecca Horn (german)

artist´s website
wikipedia on rebecca horn
video with an installation by Horn

Arthur Ganson (american)
artist´s website
TED presention with Arthur Ganson

Anna Strid (swedish)

artist´s website

Peter Flemming (canadian)

artist´s website
video of installation

Jean Pierre Gauthier (canadian)

main focus on making sound from the kinetic sculptures
artist´s website

lázlo moholy nagy
light space navigator

Bernie Lubell

interactive wood machines
artist´s website

Gregory Barsamian
artist´s website

chinese farmer and inventor Wu Yulu

article about Wu Yulu
video with Wu Yulu
video with Wu Yulu
Mechinal love: documentary
The film portrays people who in different ways enjoy a close relationship with a robot. We meet an old German woman who desperately seeks to keep her memories alive through talking with a baby seal robot called Paro. We also meet Professor Ishiguro who is developing androids, and who, in his current work on his own geminoid, wonders what it takes to be human.

The robot is no longer just a mechanical gadget that sits inside your coffee machine or performs monotonous, mechanical work, but made to provide meaningful presence.
The film´s website

and while we are in the robotics section, here is a link with some great images of contemporary robots.

Theo Jansen (dutch)
wikipedia on Jansen
TED presentation with Jansen

Kristoffer Myskja (norwegian)
artist´s website

atle selnes nielsen (norwegian)
artist´s website

Lawrence Malstaff (belgian)

website of his gallery with several video examples of his work

Lars Brunström
Last, but not least, check out Lars Brunström´s website with his own work, including the sloth at the top of this post.

Here is a video documentation of his snake

I have added a separate post about Len Lye.