Page 12 - Studio International - May 1966
P. 12

Some thoughts on kinetic art

     Comment by Jasia Reichardt

      Talking about his sculpture, David Smith   sculptures warning'man against the inevitable  and alter completely as one proceeds from
     pointed out that for him every form had its   destiny of his own making.           one side of the painti�g to the other. It is
      own colour. Whereas he was referring to   The term 'kinetic', of which the dictionary   unlikely that one would ever see the
      colour/form equivalents, or the specific   definition is: 'of or resulting from motion',   painting from precisely the same position
      analogies between one visual element and   has been applied so widely and to such a   again. Agam's awareness that reality can
      another, those artists especially involved   vast variety of art manifestations that it has   only be experienced partially at any
      in the fields of kinetic art and happenings   become almost impossible to give any sensible  given moment is the fundamental preoccu­
      are aware of the possibility of enhancing or   definition of what precisely it is meant to   pation underlying his work. Gustav Metzger's
      magnifying any creative statement through   signify. The implication of movement can   autodestructive paintings in acid on nylon
      the specific use of multiple equivalents. If   be envisaged in a number of ways: the   also stress the uniqueness of the moment.
      a form can be said to have its own colour,   mechanical movement of tJ:;e work or its   As the acid, applied to nylon with a brush,
      then one can presuppose that it can also be   parts (Schaffer), natural movement (Calder's  makes holes in _the fabric-which eventually
      equated with a specific movement and     mobiles), the illusion of movement (Vasarely),  disintegrates-there is no possibility of
      sound. These types of analogies were     the movement of the spectator in front or   recapturing any of the images. This is also ~
      recognized by Arcimboldi in the sixteenth   around the work (Soto), the idea of   true of Medalla's bubble machines which
      century when he made different bands of   movement (Vardanega), manual intervention  disgorge foam and which relate to an
      colour serve as indications of pitch, and   by the spectator (Again), and works which   organic process of continuous change
      since Aristotle connexions h ve been made   undergo a continual process of change   and regeneration-a process which cannot
      between the seven tones of the diatonic scale  and/or disintegration  (autodestructive art). ·   be reversed.
      and the seven colours of the spectrum. In   Movement itself, or the use of it, constitutes   Whereas certain kinetic works operate
      1926 Mary Greenwalt, the American pianist,  neither a philosophy nor a style, but   through a cycle (Malina, Healey), which
      had colour projections synchronized with   simply a technical possibility or method   could be repeated or reconst   ted, those
      the music she was playing, and Rimbaud,   .which is used to give form or expression to   machines and objects which are primarily
      of course, associated letters with colours,   the artist's statement. One could say that   involved with the idea of performance
      endowing A with black, E -white I -red,   movement is equivalent to material/     (Tinguely) or growth (Medalla) belong more
      O-blue, and U-green. The way in which    technique. Since the artists under the   strictly to the ephemera of art.
      equivalents operate cannot be absolute,  umbrella of kineti  art share no common   The luminous pictures by John Healey­
      and certainly most creative artists are  programme, one can only discuss kinetic art   large rectangular boxes with a screen in
      unlikely to agree about any exact analogies.  in terms of individual aims and the many   front on which 'images of coloured light
      Nevertheless, there is an associative    ingenious ways in which it has been      develop and change-are programmed to
      vocabulary of forms which have their     employed.                                undergo a repertoire of developments whic}l
      correspondences in music, movement, speed  One of the most interesting approaches is   constitute a cycle that can last anything
      and colour, and which Ozenfant referred to  that in which the idea of movement is used   from a few minutes to a number of hours.
      as symphonic relations.                  explicitly to denote the passing of time.   Malina's 'lumidyne' constructions follow a
       In kinetic art these relations provide the   The Futurists employed it for their destructive  similar process. He incorporates a painted
      formal framework on which is based the   ideas, as an expression of longing to do away   screen between the source of moving light
      critical relationship between the work and   with the past in order to become even more   and the frontal  anslucent perspex screen.
      the spectator. All works which make use of   aware of the instantaneity of the present.   Surprisingly enough his imagery is often
      movement, simply through the fact that they  In his tactile paintings, Agam also stressqs   semi-figurative, which would seem to
      undergo a process of change and operate   the fact that no moment in time can be   contradict some of the ideas inherent in this
      on a number of  levels simultaneously,   recaptured. These particular paintings   type of kinetic art. The photo-paintings of
      establish a more complex and often more   consist of discs mounted on springs which   Livinus are also involved with the
      involving effect on the viewer. This is   are attached to ! wooden base. When     transformation of light/colour forms which
      probably the sole crucial characteristic that   touched the discs vibrate, and the image is   change and disappear on a rectangular
      the vastly different works in the field of   always in the process of becoming and   screen, as are those of Andre Dantu where
      kinetic art have in common-works as far   disintegratipg. This also applies to his   colour images undergo a process of
      apart as those of the Groupe de Recherche d' Art  contrapuntal paintings-works on corrugated   fragmentation and reconstruction through
      Visuel with their stress on formal anonymity,   surfaces with a number of themes continued   the use of two sheets of polaroid, one of
      and the robots of Bruce Lacey, cautionary   on the parallel ridges-where  images merge   which rotates behind layers of colourless

      Contributors to this issue

      Jasia Reichardt, who contributes a monthly Comment   Robert Hughes is an :Australian critic· and writer who   John Berger, critic and novelist,  has written for the
       o Studio  International,  is  assistant  director  of  the  divides his time between England and Italy. He writes   Observer,  the  New  Statesman,  the  Sunday  Times,
      Institute of Contemporary Arts.          for the Sunday  Times and various journals, and fre­  Labour Monthly, and other journals and newspapers,
                                               quently takes part in radio and television programmes   ani:i  writes  regularly  for  New  Society.  He  has  also
      Gene Baro publishes widely on the visual arts and on   on the arts.  At  present he is completing a  book on   worked a great deal In television. His published works
      literature.  He  contributes  to  Art  International,  The   Australian art.      include three novels and  The success and failure of
      London Magazine,  The New Yorker, and other periodi­                              Picasso. He has just completed an 'imaginative docu­
      cals, i.s London Correspondent of Arts Magazine and   Dr David  Irwin is a lecturer in the history of fine art   mentary'  about  a  doctor,  called  A  Fortunate  Man,
      Art in Amenca (both of New York), American adviser   at Glasgow University, His book, English Neoclassical   which Peng�in Books are to publish next Spring. This
      to  Gambit,  the  international  drama  quarterly,  and   Art,  is being published this May by  Faber &  Faber,   has been made in the closest collaboration with the
      American editor of Stand, a literature and arts quarter­  London,  and  New  York  Graphic  Society.  He  is  at   Swiss photographer Jean Mohr;  in  the  relation  be­
      ly. Recently he published a book of poems, A View of   present working on the Industrial and applied arts of   tween  photographer  and  text  it  may  prove  to  be
      Water, and an anthology of American regional stories,   the last 150 years.       unique.  'My present major work,' says John Berger,
      Couleurs Locales.                                                                 'concerns Don Juan In 1910. I do not know whether it
                                                                                        will be categorized eventually as an essay, a novel, a
                                                                                        treatise, or the description and analysis of a dream.'
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