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Nature rewired: kinetic sculptures by Cristiaan Zwanikken

Posted on: March 9, 2014

Yesterday I visited the exhibition Nature Rewired by Dutch artist Cristiaan Zwanikken in Museum Valkhof in Nijmegen.

Zwanikken creates art installations  in which remnants of animals are brought to life through microprocessors. His works are hybrid animalistic figures, made of wire or cable that come to ‘life’, responding to the viewer and to each other, as can be seen in this (sorry – Dutch language) promo video of the exhibition:

As  Tinguely in the 80’s, his installations contain animal skulls, skeletons and sometimes stuffed animals to suggest living creatures, but unlike Tinguely are computer operated and make use of robotics instead of mechanical contraptions. They also often contain a narrative, sometimes derived from films – such as this one from spaghetti westerns:

The exhibition of moving objects supported by sounds and voices resembles a modern cabinet of curiosities or a futuristic zoo in which the devices seem to demonstrate “creation” in the broadest sense by their attempts to fathom nature and/or animals. The viewer is a witness to a chaotic  and spectacular display of motions and sounds which mimick nature, but do not lead to any result. By doing this, Zwanikken plays nature – against artificial – against viewer. Due to the unpredictability of the computer-aided  motions, it is not certain who responds to whom, and who is looking or being looked at:

By making technology  ‘out of control’ in this way, Christiaan Zwanikken seems to irony the hype around interaction in media art and the illusion of smooth-running communications. His fusion of organic and inorganic materials melded with technology demonstrates the evolution and de-evolution of sculpture in the twenty-first century.

Definitely an artist to follow and an exhibition to check out!

More information:

  • Museum Valkhof website
  • Blog of Christiaan Zwanikken
  • Blog of filmer Jarred Alterman (who made a few short films about art works of Christiaan Zwanikken)
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