Kinetic sculpture “Heureka” by Jean Tinguely

Kinetic sculpture – art from any medium that contains movement perceivable by the viewer or depends on motion for its effect.

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. Kinetic art encompasses a wide variety of overlapping techniques and styles.

  • kinetic sculpture entitled Heureka (image right) by Jean Tinguely on the shore of Lake Zurich. The sculpture is as much an auditory event as it is visual, with all the rusted whirrings of the gears, belts, wheels, and pulleys.
  • Wood that works (videos) – kinetic sculpture made of wood, windup power. The side view of the piece provides useful information about the structure of the completed, moving work.

Kinetic sculpture race – organized contests of human-powered amphibious all-terrain works of art. The original event, the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California, is also called the “Triathlon of the Art World” because art and engineering are combined with physical endurance during a three day cross country race that includes sand, mud, pavement, a bay crossing, a river crossing and major hills

What’s the problem?

  • Ask – What are some of the structural components necessary to build a kinetics structure? What are some of the power options for the location of the sculpture?
  • Imagine – What are some other technologies that can be used to create the desired effect in the sculpture?
  • Design, Build – What are the basic components necessary for the sculpture to move? What limitations does this put on the overall design?
  • Improve – How could the movement and the effect be improved?

That’s engineering

  • kinetic energy – the energy of objects that are moving. For example, a wind up toy that has been wound has potential energy which transforms to kinetic energy when it is released.
  • kinetic friction – the force of friction between two surfaces that are moving relative to each other. For example, think about sliding down a water slide. There is kinetic friction between the slide and the person.

Engineering ideas

  • kinetic, movement, design, power, simple machine, complex machine, balance, gears, pulleys

Do it
Now it is your turn. Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • create a kinetic sculpture that will move as part of its design.