The word kinetic means relating to motion. Kinetic art is art that depends on motion for its effects. Since the early twentieth century artists have been incorporating movement into art. This has been partly to explore the possibilities of movement, partly to introduce the element of time, partly to reflect the importance of the machine and technology in the modern world, partly to explore the nature of vision. Movement has either been produced mechanically by motors or by exploiting the natural movement of air in a space. Works of this latter kind are called mobiles. A pioneer of Kinetic art was Naum Gabo with his motorized Standing Wave of 1919-1920. Mobiles were pioneered by Alexander Calder from about 1930. Kinetic art became a major phenomenon of the late 1950s and the 1960s.


Alexander Calder, "Red Mobile", 1956. Painted sheet metal and metal rods, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Kinetic art explores how things look when they move and refers mostly to sculptured works, made up of parts designed to be set in motion by an internal mechanism or an external stimulus, such as light or air. The movement is not virtual or illusory, but a real movement that might be created by a motor, water, wind or even a button pushed by the viewer. Over time, kinetic art developed in response to an increasingly technological culture. Among the earliest attempts to incorporate movement in a plastic artwork were Moholy-Nagy’s Space-Light Modulator, a sculpture producing moving shadows made at the Bauhaus between 1922 and 1930, certain Constructivists works, Marcel Duchamp’s Rotary Glass Plate and Rotary Demisphere (Precision Optics), and Alexander Calder’s motorized sculptures from 1930s.


Naum Gabo, “Construction in Space with Crystalline Centre” 1938-40 .

Perspex and celluloid.


The expression Kinetic Art was used from the mid-1950s onward. It referred to an international trend followed by artists such as Jesus Rafael Soto, Takis, YacoovAgam and Nicolas Schoffer. Some Kinetic artists also worked in the field of Op Art. Their works were influenced by a modernist aesthetic and could be made with contemporary materials (e.g., aluminum, plastic, neon). Most kinetic works were moving geometric compositions. In Italy artists belonging to Gruppo N, founded in Padua in 1959 (including Biasi, Costa and Massironi, among others), carried out experiments with light, projections and reflections associated with movement. The members of the French group GRAV, which included Le Parc, Morellet and Sobrino and was established in 1960’s in Paris, created optical and kinetic environments that disturbed and interfered with meanings and relations to space. The term kineticism broadened the concept of Kinetic Art to all artistic works involving movement, without any reference to a specific aesthetics. It applies to all those artists today who work with any kind of movement, rather than only geometric art.

Kinetic sculptures are simply breathtaking. Drawing green engineering and art together, they give a glimpse at what great beauty can emerge from an unconstrained mind. Kinetic art encompasses a wide variety of overlapping techniques and styles.


Strandbeest in the country, Theo Jansen, Kinetic Sculpture

Kinetic sculptures are examples of kinetic art in the form of sculpture or three dimensions. In common with other types of kinetic art, kinetic sculptures have parts that move or that are in motion. Sound sculpture can also, in some cases, be considered kinetic sculpture. The motion of the work can be provided in many ways: mechanically through electricity, steam or clockwork; by utilising natural phenomena such as wind or wave power; or by relying on the spectator to provide the motion, by doing something such as cranking a handle. And Mobiles are a type of kinetic sculpture. Some kinetic sculptures are wind-powered as are those of Theo Jansen, and others are motor driven. A mobile is a type of kinetic sculpture constructed to take advantage of the principle of equilibrium. It consists of a number of rods, from which weighted objects or further rods hang. A popular creator of mobile sculptures was Alexander Calder. Metamechanics also has a specific meaning in relation to art history, as a description of the kinetic sculpture machines of Jean Tinguely. It is also applied to, and may have its origins in, earlier work of the Dada art movement.


Jean Tinguely, “MétaHarmonie IV – Fatamorgana”, 1970


Started in Europe, now kinetic art has spreaded its influence globally. It can be found in all over the world.

Kinetic Art in Asia

Asian Artists have a different approach on using mechanical motor on their works. Kinetic never been their main focus on their works. It’s a complementary element for their works. Kinetic is used to support the main theme on their works. Even the term kinetic art is rarely used to describe a work that have movement as part of the work. Instalation art is more popular as a term than kinetic art. There is no specific research conducted or discussion on kinetic art in Asia. All tough Asian artist have a wide variety and unique approach of theme and concept on their work that uses motion and movement. Kinetic art in Asia have an enormous potential to keep developing an evolving  into a new form and shape of art. These are two Asian artist that have been working on to develop kinetic art through an intensive experimentation and exploration.

Choi U-Ram

When the Korean-born artist Choi U-ram first introduced a small robot, or a mechanical organism that had only lived in his imagination in 1994, the robot then belonged to a virtually unknown genre called "kinetic art." Choi, now 40, was in the undergraduate program at Chung-Ang University as a sculpture major where he began testing his little imaginary organisms and they continued to evolve.

Arbor deus,2010.jpg

Choi U-Ram, “Arbor Deus”,2010


Over the years Choi's stunning works of art bearing scientific names like "UltimaMudfox" and "Lumina Virgo" have since toured in the world-class establishments at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Bitforms Gallery in New York, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, to name a few. As the artist suggested that his living organisms "absorbed and responded to the urban energy," they further stimulated the visual and cerebral cortex of the mesmerized audience. Today Choi represents South Korea's best-known kinetic artist. From now on, the artist decided he wanted to delve into what feels closer to humanness, and through his new works he wanted to work on the themes, the most familiar and oldest to humanity, i.e., mythology and religion.

Heri Dono

Heri Dono was born in Yogyakarta on the south of Java in 1960. The city Yogya has a society rooted in traditional Javanese culture, still headed by a sultanate representing centuries upon centuries of heritage. It is however also the centre of contemporary Javanese and Indonesian art, hosting a community richly fusing the elements. Heri Dono works in the low-tech end of multimedia art, using performance, puppets, text, music, sound and mechanical devices to create environments and kinetic sculptures. Dono’s works draw on Indonesian traditions, beliefs and motifs, as well as Western aesthetic principals, narratives and popular culture. Through his expressive personal style, Dono often uses elements of the grotesque to question political institutions and to comment on the human condition. Heri Dono lives and works in Yogyakarta and has exhibited widely.

Heri Dono,Flying Angels,1996

HeriDono, “Flying Angels”, 1996

His paintings depict wild deformations and fantasties from which characters of Wayang stories emerge. Adding his profound knowledge of children’s cartoon films, animation films, and comics, Heri Dono’s canvas is always filled with highly astonishing characters set against the artist's own critical backdrop, commenting on on socio-political issues in Indonesia and abroad.

Heri Dono’s figures are human in form but contain mechanical, often clockwork, components. Dono draws on Indonesian wayang puppetry, an art form that traditionally incorporates social commentary. Other sources for his figures include the Western fascination with automata and robots, which questioned the status and actions of human beings.

In his works, Dono often makes use of matrix or grid-like structures. These structures have aesthetic significance in European modernist art as well as having spiritual significance in Indonesian culture in the form of the mandala. Dono also takes inspiration from Western popular culture, with Flying angels 1995 based on the animated Flash Gordon cartoons that he has loved since childhood.

Motion / Sensation :Indonesia First Kinetic Art Exhibition

In its latest definition, not all work that consist motion can be called a kinetic art. Art critique and philosopher CyrillBarret once said “..kinetic art have other qualities than its actual movement and motion itself. Motion had to have certain impact that attract unusual mental reception, contemplation or even sensation..”. Kinetic art have developed into a specified identity in America and Europe. It has its own historical track and development, forums and specific public as a result of its practices that create relation and integration with technology, science, craftsmanship and physics.

Kinetic art is not very popular in Indonesia. Even though there are various kinetic art quality that we can find in the works of Indonesia artist. Specially in works that public always interpret as an installation art. Heridono works is an excellent example for this condition, in how his works have never been said as a kinetic art. While there are number of younger artist striving to explore, experimenting intensively for the possibilities of having works with kinetic quality influenced by their predecessor.  Supported by the advance and reachable technology, these young artist produce a specific projects to develop a new sensation on their work. BagusPandega is an excellent samples for this condition. This young sculptor interested on how mechanical things work and he focused to apply mechanical principles into his work. Motion, sound and lighting became main focus on his work.

Bagus Pandega - 2009 - Singer_ Past-Post (83x87x41) Mixed.jpg

BagusPandega, “Singer; Past-Post”, 2009

Lack of exhibition, literature and discussion that record the latest development of kinetic art in Indonesia drive AgungHujatnikajennong (Indonesian curator that focused on new media arts study in Indonesia) to collect and compile Indonesian artist with kinetic quality in one exhibition called “Motion/Sensation”. This specified exhibition created with hope to trace, record and study the idea, concept and perspective in kinetic art practices on Indonesian artists works. Beside the needs to see new experimentation on kinetic art in Indonesia, this exhibition will be filled with historicism spirit on visual arts medium, which a very important aspect on Indonesian art history. Will be held on July 2011 Motion/Sensation attempt to track Indonesian kinetic art genealogy and mark all of aspect that dominantly represent this practice from the first generation of artist who have done kinetic art to younger generation of artist.  Participated artist are those who have done a series work of kinetic art and those who have interest to develop potential kinetic quality on their work. Hopefully this exhibition will be a milestone in Indonesian art history and reliable reference develop kinetic art theory and practices.