2022 Kinetic Research Journal

Jude Silvertree

September 19, 2022: Joshua Allen Harris, Inflatables

Joshua Allen Harris creates inflatable art pieces using plastic bags. These sculptures are placed over subway grates and briefly inflate when a train passes. I'm very interested in these artworks, especially the unique origin of their movement. There are many opportunities to create meaning based on this air movement generated by a passing train, and the kind of death and resurrection of the sculptures that ensues.

September 26, 2022: It Shall Be Mine

"It Shall Be Mine" is an atomic clock that is confined by magnets, preventing it from ticking. It's always very interesting to me when an object's purpose is subverted in art. This piece in particular also shows that very small movements can be really profound and full of meaning. The magnets constrain the ticking of the clock just enough that you can see this very small movement, as though the hand of the clock is struggling against this incredible force.

October 3, 2022: Can't Help Myself

This is one of the first kinetic sculptures I ever saw, and I credit it as what got me interested in art and technology. I'm very interested in the idea of a living machine, one that feels and bleeds like a human but is structurally very inhuman. One subject that I am exploring a lot in my own art this year is feelings of fear, struggle, and helplessness. The way this machine moves and even the sounds it makes evoke agony. On a grander level, I feel that the line between biology and artifice will continue to blur as technology advances -- how can I express my pain through a synthetic body?

October 10, 2022: Atlas | Partners in Parkour

These things are fucking scary. I also don't totally believe that these are real and not CGI, but this entry isn't about my conspiracies on the military industrial complex. These robots tie into the feelings I expressed in my previous entry, about living machines. These robots move exactly like humans, better and more agile than most humans actually but still with distinctly organic movements. I don't expect to ever achieve this degree of fluidity in any kinetic art I make, but it still inspires me.

October 17, 2022:

These were the first videos I watched for this class. I designed a maquette of a jack-in-the-box although I didn't ever end up making a full version. I thought it was fascinating to learn how this commonplace toy actually works, and how even the "simple" things we tend to take for granted, such as children's toys, have mechanisms within them that required thought, precision, and planning in order to create that movement.

October 24, 2022:

I have a family friend who works at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, and every year they hold the kinetic race. In this race, various artists come and build vehicles which must race through mud, sand, and eventually end up in the harbor. I haven't personally participated but my dad has entered for the last two years. One thing I love about the kinetic race is that it's not just about making something that moves - artists also go above and beyond to turn their vehicles into fascinating, ridiculous, kitschy works of art.

October 31, 2022:

Theo Jansen's Strandbeests are some of the most famous kinetic sculptures that I know of. They are massive, complicated, organic-looking figures that are pushed across the beach by the wind. I think these sculptures are so successful because not only are they unique and complex in the way they move, but they fit perfectly within their environment. They evoke the idea huge, prehistoric-looking creatures as well as sailboats and old, wooden ships - though absolutely bizarre, they somehow look perfectly natural as they move across the beach.

November 7, 2022:

Daniel Rozin creates "mirrors" made out of unusual materials. He creates large displays using things like tiles, fur, fans, and other materials attached to motors which move to recreate the silhouette of the viewer. I am really interested in image processing, and these pieces instantly fascinated me as a kind of image processing-turned-physical.

November 14, 2022:

One thing I'm really interested in is the bare minimum it takes to perceive something as alive. It seems like anything that is small, soft, and moving evokes empathy in the viewer. Zhu Zhu pets were a big part of my childhood - as an adult they seem kind of stupid, they're just little boxes with wheels and a fabric cover to look like a hamster. But as a child they were alive, almost as real as my actual pets, and I think it's really cool that the illusion of life can be created so easily.

November 21, 2022:

This sculpture by Ian Ingram is designed in the image of the Western Fence Lizard. It emulates the lizard's territorial push-up ritual. But Lizardless Legs always has the upper hand - it can do an additional pushup on top of the first one, meaning it will always win in a battle against real lizards. This piece ties in to my last entry, although instead of doing the bare minimum to appear alive, the sculpture is designed to do the bare minimum to be recognized as a lizard staking it's claim to territory. It also connects to transhumanism, another subject I'm interested in - the robot can go beyond the real lizard's capabilities by doing a second pushup on top of itself.