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Moving Machines in Melbourne

Part of the pump had broken down and red liquid had dripped on to the newspaper lined Vitrine but that didn’t matter. It was bound to have happened with such a complex and pointless machine. And so much else was still turning, extending, flapping, squeezing a ball of wool and a rotating a still life with grapes; all driven by a single electric motor with several belts connecting it to other devices. “Sub Assembly” by Danny Frommer at Platform is a great, wacky creation (see my YouTube video of “Sub Assembly”) and it made me reflect on the other kinetic sculptures in Melbourne.

In 2010 Cameron Robbins “Very Slow Drawing Machine” was installed in the forecourt of the NGV at Federation Square – the Fracture Gallery. Drawing machines are not intended to replace the human in art but to produce more drawings without the artist is attendance. Many artists have made machines that draw, notably Jean Tinguely. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Tinguely Robbins has powered his machine with sustainable solar and wind power. The results of this machine are not impressive; the fan patterns are not anything to write about. (See RMIT’s media release about Cameron Robbins “Very Slow Drawing Machine”.) Still it is always interesting to see kinetic sculpture responding to natural forces, engaging in pointless activities and, even, the occasional break down. For it is these features that makes kinetic sculpture essentially appealing.

Konstantin Dimopolulos, “Red Centre”, 2006

There are more permanent public kinetic sculptures in Melbourne. At Federation Square there is Konstantin Dimopolulos “Red Centre” 2006, Dimopoulos lived in New Zealand and would be familiar with the work of New Zealand artist, Len Lye, the master of kinetic sculptures. “Red Centre” takes some of Lye’s ideas and expands them into a post minimalist sculpture that rattles and sways. Parts of “The Travellers” by Nadim Karan, the sculpture on the Sandridge Bridge over the Yarra, are wind powered; several sets of small metal windmills turn on some of the figures. And, I’m told, that somewhere in the Docklands, there is “Blowhole”, a 15-metre-high, wind-powered sculpture by Sydney artist, Duncan Stemier.

Compared to all of these other kinetic sculptures that I’ve seen in Melbourne, “Sub Assembly” by Danny Frommer is an outstanding example because so many things moved and, most importantly, it is so fun.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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