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04 JUNE 2013

The Senster: pioneering cybernetic sculpture

"The Senster, commissioned by the electronics giant, Philips, for their permanent showplace, the Evoluon, in Eindhoven, was a much bigger and more ambitious piece of work than SAM. In addition to responding to people's voices, the Senster also responded to their movements, which it detected by means of radar, and was (as far as I know) the first robotic sculpture to be controlled by a computer. It was unveiled in 1970 and remained on permanent show until 1974 when it was dismantled.

Its size – it was over 15 feet (4 m) long and could reach as high into the air – made the use of aluminium castings inappropriate, so it was welded out of steel tubing, with the castings employed only in the more intricate microphone positioning mechanism. Its behaviour, controlled by a computer, was much more subtle than SAM's but still fairly simple. The microphones would locate the direction of any predominant sound and home in on it, rather like SAM but much more efficiently, and the rest of the structure would follow them in stages if the sound persisted. Sudden movements or loud noises would make it shy away. The complicated acoustics of the hall and the completely unpredictable behaviour of the public made the Senster's movements seem a lot more sophisticated than they actually were. It soon became obvious that it was that behaviour and not anything in its appearance which was responsble for the impact which the Senster undoubtedly had on the audience."

(Aleksandar Zivanovic)

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TAGS

1970acousticsart + technologyartificial intelligenceartificial life • audio activated • audio controlledautomata • computer controlled • computer historycomputer sculpturecybernetic art • cybernetic sculpture • Cybernetic Serendipitycybernetics • direction detection • Edward Ihnatowicz • Eindhoven • futuristic machineshanging mobileinteractive artinteractive toykinetic artkinetic sculpturemechanical beingmechanismmovementPhilipsradarrobotroboticrobotic sculpturerobotics • SAM (Sound Activated Mobile) • sculptureshow (spectacle)simulation • sound activated • sound sculpturespeculative design • The Senster • wonderment

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2012

Technological advances expand the artist's expressive vocabulary

Exhibition: "Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past", Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39A Canonbury Square, London, N1 2AN, From 19 September 2012 to 23 December 2012.

Bruno Munari was a "founding member of the Movimento Arte Concreta (M.A.C.) in Milan, which was established towards the end of the 1940s. This acted as a catalyst for new developments in Italian abstraction, and aspired to bring about a 'synthesis of arts' in which traditional painting would be complemented by new tools of communication, demonstrating the possibility of a convergence of art and technology, creativity and functionality. Reflecting his belief that technological advances expanded the artist's expressive vocabulary, by 1950 Munari had begun to experiment with creating works by means of projecting light through compositions made from a wide range of materials such as coloured and transparent plastic, organic elements and Polaroid filters, producing beautiful and intriguing images of vast dimensions."

(Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 2012)

Fig.1 Bruno Munari, Aeroplanes and Archers, 1932, mixed media, 34.8 x 24.8cms Courtesy Massimo & Sonia Cirulli Archive

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TAGS

19071998artart and technologyartistBruno Munaricolour and lightConstructivist-inspiredconvergence • creativity and functionality • exhibitionexpressive vocabularyFuturism (art movement) • Futurist past • hanging mobile • hanging objects • Italian • Italian abstraction • Italian art • Milanmobilesmodernist tradition • Movimento Arte Concreta • new tools of communication • photomontagesculpturespatial environments • synthesis of arts • technological advances • transparent plastic • uncritical attitude towards progress • use of space • useless machinesworking across disciplines • working across media

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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