One of the things I enjoy the most about art is the way it can make us question the reality of what we are seeing. This could be simply how the artist has put brush to canvas to capture a particular moment or feeling, the baffling intricacy of their technique or even the mechanics behind their process and it’s asking questions like this that allow you to engage with the art.
This is one of the many reasons why Kinetica Art Fair is such a refreshing and exciting event. The UK’s only art fair dedicated to kinetic, robotic, sound and light art, Kinetica returned for its fourth year at Ambika P3, a cavernous industrial exhibition space in Marylebone, perfectly suited to this celebration of the mechanical and innovative face of art.
Unless you’re blessed with limitless pockets, art fairs are usually a no go affair, unless you also enjoy being herded around stuffy exhibition centres window shopping for art whose apparent artistic worth is defined by its price tag. While the works at Kinetica are indeed for sale, the majority of people at the fair are there for the unique opportunity to experience fascinating living artworks, partaking in live experiments and installations, in a wonderful and unlikely marriage of science and art.
Since many of the installations require interaction to come to life, the galleries, artists and universities on display encourage visitors to draw on their inquisitive nature, letting us play with things normally out of bounds. Namely expensive machinery… Studio Roosegaarde welcomed visitors with their interactive robotic light sculpture, responding to movement, sound and even a gentle tickle of its sensor…
On a smaller scale, Midnight’s Neon Tetra used a goldfish to power a simple light installation mimicking the gentle movements of life underwater. Nicola Rae at PM+R used sound emission analysers to create an interactive installation using guitars and microphones to influence the visual projection while Tim Lewis’ intricate animatronics demonstrated the basics of artistic reproduction showing the pencil as an integral tool in a mechanism, designed to replicate a love heart on the gallery wall with a simple turn of a handle.
Elsewhere, the Gestalt Circle used sequential lighting to illuminate white cups in quick succession presenting the illusion that the cup was flying across the room. This visually captivating installation-cum-experiment demonstrated the trickery we fall victim to when watching film – a reminder of the practical science lying behind our art.
The theme of the mechanisms of art was one that ran through the collections, particularly in Ruey-Shiann Shyu’s Writers Vessel, a mechanised representation of the writing process using feather quills on a device moving to stimulate the act of writing, a literal ‘poetry in motion’, as the movements themselves become an artistic language.
But for Kinetica’s artists, it seems everything can be transplanted into art, even Twitter. From Immo Blease’s abstract designs to University of Lincoln’s Twitter lamps, we were given art at its most immediate as the works responded to current trends from the predictable Justin Bieber, the political Syria and the breaking, Whitney Houston. Seeing these works made before our eyes, visualising what the world is talking about, created an interesting but certainly unsurprising comment on the social priorities of our society.
Though still a relative newcomer on London’s art fair circuit, Kinetica has something for everyone, whether you fall into the science or art camp, working to provide living proof of the maxim that art should be experienced.
Kinetica Art Fair 2012 took place on 9 -12 February at: