Elemental Energy

Elemental Energy

Elemental Energy

Art Powered by Nature

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
Joe Chirchirillo
Jason Krugman & Christian Cerrito
Mark Malmberg
Patrick Marold
Moto Ohtake
Tim Prentice


What is Elemental Energy?

Elemental Energy: Art Powered by Nature was The Schuylkill Center’s 2010 On The Trails exhibition. Six artists or artist teams from around the country presented 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. These exciting works were installed for visitors to The Schuylkill Center to discover along Widener, Woodcock, and Grey Fox Loop trails.

Description of the Work

Joe Chirchirillo – Rain Machine
Rain Machine is one of a series of Kinetic Sculptures powered by small electric motors, pumps or sometimes by hand, and is loosely based on the cycle of rainfall and absorption; moisture being drawn up by the sun, forming clouds and then falling as rain. This piece follows a similar pattern as the water is pumped up, falls on the roof then returns to the holding tank. Rain Machine creates the experience for the viewer of being in a rainstorm; the sounds, smells and feel of being in a small shelter. The contrast of nature and the man made, architecture and ecosystems are at the heart of this project.

Jason Krugman and Christian Cerrito – Solar Thumpers
Solar Thumpers is a series of custom built, kinetic acoustic sculptures. The installation is composed of a dozen solar powered forms, each of which produces a unique, yet subtle, percussive sound at regular intervals. The sculptures will engage visitors with their captivating visual forms, while subtly altering the pre-existing sonic landscape of the Schuylkill Center’s forests. In addition to sonifying the trails of the Schuylkill Center, Solar Thumpers demonstrates to its audience the potential for using small scale solar energy circuits for creative, environmental, and energy gathering purposes.

Mark Malmberg – Sun Birds
Sun Birds are kinetic sculptures that live directly on sunlight (as does much of earth’s life).  They wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.  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. Hand-built with stainless steel rod, solar cells, motors and microprocessors, these creatures are given their personalities both through their physical design and through their software “brains”. Their communications are reflected in the sounds they make back and forth to each other, mimicking the behaviors of natural life-forms.  Like so many of the other creatures with whom we share the planet, they are virtually unaware of human existence.  They spend most of their days celebrating how great it is that solar energy is so abundant and free.

Patrick Marold (with collaborating musician- Eric Bachman) – Solar Drone
Solar Drone is an initial representation of a concept that directly translates the power of the sun into an audible drone. Depending on the angle and intensity of the sun, this sculpture emits a subtle and sustained hum. Each will respond individually with a unique note,  tuned to coordinate with the others, creating an ever changing composition of tones. As with this individual sound sculpture, the harmonics are directly affected by clouds, time of day, humidity and temperature. The wooden acoustical body that houses the electronics and sound instrumentation, is built to accept the changing conditions physically, ultimately affecting the quality of sound that is emitted. Solar Drone enhances our perception of the environment and our orientation in it.

Moto Ohtake – Aero 2010
AERO 2010 is a stainless steel kinetic sculpture which is a self-contained system that is activated by the wind, giving it an infinite number of movements, including tranquil or even frenetic as the weather and or wind patterns change.  The sculptural movements are an exploration of opposing factors, such as simplicity and complexity and chaos and order, which are reflective of the natural phenomenon of our environment. The design of the sculpture includes sixteen concentric loops which graduate in size, and nineteen rotating joints with oval shaped wings that respond to the air currents.  The wings are positioned in such a way that under the same wind conditions the loops will rotate in opposite directions.  The entire piece responds independently and spontaneously given the direction of the wind and the orientation of the structure.  While the symbolism of the sculpture is open for interpretation AERO 2010 serves to heighten ones awareness of the important relationship between oneself and our universe.

Tim Prentice – Yellow Zinger
The air around us moves in ways that are organic, whimsical, and unpredictable. With Yellow Zinger, artist Tim Prentice abdicates design to the wind, allowing his work to take on these same qualities. Yellow Zinger is a study of scale and proportion, changing shape, and whimsy.