Elemental powers

By Christina Catanese, Director of Environmental Art and Liz Jelsomine, Exhibitions Coordinator

Editor’s note: The Schuylkill Center produced a wall calendar for 2017 in celebration of the environmental art program. Throughout the year, we’ll run a monthly post on our blog highlighting the art works featured in that month of the calendar.

Tim Prentice, Yellow Zinger 2-925x616“I imagine a line in space. I build it straight and true and offer it to the wind.

The wind plays with it like a cat with a length of yarn. The wind is the artist.”

Yellow Zinger, Tim Prentice

Tim Prentice’s Yellow Zinger was part of an outdoor exhibition at The Schuylkill Center in 2010 called Elemental Energy: Art Powered by Nature. 

Elemental Energy brought six artists/teams from around the country to present outdoor sculptural installations that engaged a natural element – wind, water, sun – to create a dynamic or kinetic artwork. Each piece created sound, movement, or both, using only the energy they harness from nature. 

Yellow Zinger on Widener Trail, Tim Prentice

Yellow Zinger on Widener Trail, Tim Prentice

The air around us moves in ways that are organic, whimsical, and unpredictable. With Yellow Zinger, artist Tim Prentice abdicated design to the wind, and allowed his work to take on these same qualities.

Here is a sense of the other five installations that were part of Elemental Energy:

Joe Chirchirillo, Rain Machine 1-925x616 Joe Chirchirillo, Rain Machine 2-925x616Joe Chirchirillo – Rain Machine
Rain Machine was loosely based on the cycle of rainfall and absorption, as water is pumped up, falls on the roof then returns to the holding tank. Rain Machine created the experience of being in a rainstorm and the sounds, smells, and feel of being in a small shelter, with contrast of nature and the man made, architecture and ecosystems.

Jason Krugman and Christian Cerrito, Solar Thumpers 2-925x1387Jason Krugman and Christian Cerrito, Solar Thumpers 1-925x616 Jason Krugman and Christian Cerrito – Solar Thumpers
Solar Thumpers was composed of a dozen solar powered forms, each of which produced a unique, yet subtle, percussive sound at regular intervals.

Mark Malmberg, Sun Birds 2-925x616Mark Malmberg, Sun Birds 1-925x616Mark Malmberg – Sun Birds
Sun Birds are kinetic sculptures that lived directly on sunlight, hand-built with stainless steel rod, solar cells, motors and microprocessors.

The artist wrote of them: “they are studies in motion, sound, and interactivity, and are traditionally representative sculpture, of a sort, while at the same time an exploration into the increasing integration of robotics technology with our lives and world.”

Patrick Marold, Solar Drone 1-925x1387Patrick Marold, Solar Drone 2-925x616Patrick Marold (with collaborating musician Eric Bachman) – Solar Drone
Depending on the angle and intensity of the sun, this sculpture emitted a subtle and sustained hum. The harmonics were directly affected by clouds, time of day, humidity and temperature.

Moto Ohtake, aero 2010 2-925x616Moto Ohtake, aero 2010 1-925x616Moto Ohtake – Aero 2010
The design of the sculpture included sixteen concentric loops which graduated in size, and nineteen rotating joints with oval shaped wings that responded to the air currents. Its construction gave it an infinite number of movements, including tranquil or even frenetic as the weather and or wind patterns change.

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