Kinetic structures

Kinetic structures

> Interactive structures and performative robots

“ObOrO consists of levitating shining balls.Levitating balls are suspended in mid-air not with strings or wires, but with only airstream.ObOrO is still just a structure, but I think this structure can be applied in various thing, for example stage installation with dancers or street lighting. “

By Ryo Kishi, 2015. More info at


Cold Stares
“This is a music video of “Cold Stares”, a collaboration between Los Angeles-based artist and beatmaker Nosaj Thing and rapper Chance The Rapper.
A dance piece by two dancers was produced to express a message in the lyrics—their mental situation and conflict searching for reason of being and memories, wandering along the border between reality and illusion. This dance has been shown in two ways: the real world performed by people and the delusional world of CG.”

Below a “Behind the Scenes” video, demonstrating the dynamics between the dancers and the flying drones. The final music video can be watch here.

By RHIZOMATIKS, 2015.  More information here.


Pattern Recognition (Work in Progress)
Pattern Recognition (working title) is a piece for two dancers and light, exploring themes of learning, memory, representation and recognition. The piece explores these themes not only artistically and choreographically, but also in the underlying technology driving it, based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Explored in both a human context, and a machine context, each approach informing the other.

By Alexander Whitley and Memo Akten, 2015.


“The WALKING Cube is an erratic structure, a simple cube brought to life by a series of mechanical agitations.When animated, it becomes a basic shape turned animal. Performing with twerks and tweaks, it grows and it shrinks, it folds and kinks.”

By 1024Aarchitecture, 2015. More info on


Telepresence wind
“This installation consists of a series of 42 x/y tilting devices connected to thin dried plant stalks installed in the gallery and a dried plant stalk connected to an accelerometer installed outdoors. When the wind blows, it causes the stalk outside to sway. The accelerometer detects this movement transmitting it in real-time to the grouping of devices in the gallery. Therefore the stalks in the gallery space move in real-time and in unison based on the movement of the wind outside.”

By David Bowen, 2011. More into at here.


> Interactive structures and performative robots

Rhythmic gymnastics
“Exploring a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon performance using a robot arm”

By FIG lab, 2015. More info here.


“Nyloïd is an impressive sound sculpture, a huge tripod consisting of 3 nylon limbs of 6 meters in length animated by a sophisticated mechanical and sound devices.”

By CODACT, 2014. More info here.


R x2
“Computer algorithm collects from Internet the data on power and depth of shocks in planet’s crust and captures all the earthquakes above 0.1 (Richter magnitude scale). On an average day there are up to 200 of such shocks. This data is converted into signals that control the motors which are attached to Thunder Drum acoustic drums”

By Vtol and Anastasia Alekhia, 2015. More info here.


Dance Performance with drones and human dancers. Drones control light and shadows on stage.

By ElevenPlay and Rhizomatiks , 2014. More info here.


Daito Manabe’s drones and moving lights 
Experiments and some failed tests for stage performance interactions.
[24 drones flight test – 03 ]

[24 drones flight test – 04 (failed) ]

[sharpy test 04 (failed: needs more accuracy of tracking) ]

[sharpy test 04 another_angle (failed:needs more accuracy of tracking) ]

[sharpy test 01]

Check more on Daito’s Youtube Channel


Interactive structures and performing robots

Performative kinetic structure
Exploratory Art/Tech Residency between Boris Chimp 504 and Alma D’Arame with the objective of physical structures, electronics, servos, electronics, sound and live visuals with the goal of finding a physical reactive mechanism that could be used in a live performance or installation.

“In the end of the week we made a small presentation to the public. We built a live performance with the piece integrated with live visuals and sound. Also in the end of the performance we invited the audience to interact with the piece as an interactive installation.”

By Boris Chimp 504 (Visiophone + Miguel Neto)  and Alma D’Arame, 2014. More info and details on the project’s page.


“Interactive multichannel robot orchestra.
The orchestra consists of 12 robotic manipulators of various designs, each of which is equipped with a sound-transmitting speaker. The manipulators, combined together, form a single multi-channel electronic sound orchestra. Due to constant displacement speakers in space, changing direction of the sound and the algorithms for generating compositions, the orchestra creates a dynamic soundscape. In order to interact with the orchestra, controller Leap Motion is used, that allows to control robots and sound by simple hands gestures in the air – similarly to conducting an orchestra.”

By Vtol, 2014. More info here.


“Eight-channel robotic choir. Performer’s voice is processed in eight independent channels and feeded to the speakers, movement of each speaker is directly connected with frequency and amplitude of the generated sound.”

By PanGenerator, 2014. More info and full credits here.


“Kamiko is an Interactive Kinetic Sculpture that responds to your presence by moving, changing shape and color.
Unique and attractive, Kamiko creates an engaging interactive experience.”

By MixMotion, 2013. More info here.


“Installation consisting of around 64 head-size mirror objects. Each object moves its head in a particular way to give it different characteristics of human behaviour.”
“When members of the audience occupy the space, the mirrors inquisitively follow someone that they find interesting. Having chosen their subject, they all synchronise and turn their heads towards them.”

By Chris O’Shea and rAndom International, 2010. More info here.


> Kinetic-digitally-controlled-structures and reactive mechanisms

“This is an art installation which is able to create a visionary beautiful dots pattern of blinking innumerable illuminations floating in all directions on the air.
The number of balls with a built-in LED, pass through one after another on the rail “8-spiral shape.” We see this phenomenon like “the light particle float around” because the balls radiate in various timing.”

By Daito Manabe and Motoi Ishibashi, [2011]. More info at here.


Breaking Wave
“Breaking Wave is an anamorphic kinetic sculpture.
804 suspended spheres move in a wave-like formation. When the wave crests and breaks, the balls hover momentarily in a cloud. From almost anywhere in the room, this cloud is purely chaotic, but step into one of two hidden spots, and this apparent chaos shows a hidden pattern.”

“A motor drives a large rotating stainless steel cam. 36 rollers follow the contour of the cam, which traces out the overall waveform. Each roller slides on a linear track, pulling a cable that spins one of the 36 output shafts. Distributed along each shaft are different sized drums from which the wooden sphere (coated in zinc and steel, and then rusted chemically) are hung. As the shafts rotate, the drums pull the balls up and down – larger drums pull balls higher. In this way, the size of the 804 drums mechanically programs the images hidden in the cloud of balls.”

Making Of… by Plebian Design  and Hypersonic . More info at the project page


The Tiller Girls
“The Tiller Girls is a group of 12 small autonomous robots. These robots were developed in Artificial Intelligence for the study of gaits given minimal freedom of movements. The robots can only balance their torsos and shoulders but they can yet achieve a large variety of expressions and behaviors. “

By Louis Philippe Demers, 2009. More info here.


Geometric kinetic installations
“Custom-software-controlled motors to animate modular geometric structures.
Through computer programming, they constantly shift and mutate, producing highly nuanced choreographic effects that reinforce the importance of time and movement in the elaboration of a personal poetics.”

Circuconcéntricos Rouge Orange Transparente, 2014

Plano Flexionante Circular 5, 2014

Elias Crespin, Circuconcéntricos Blanco, 2011 By Elias Crespin.


Standards and Double Standards
“Standards and Double Standards” is an interactive installation that consists of fifty fastened belts that are suspended at waist height from stepper motors on the ceiling of the exhibition room. Controlled by a computerized tracking system, the belts rotate automatically to follow the public, turning their buckles slowly to face passers-by”.

By Rafael Lozano, 2004. More info here.


Bloom Skin
“Wind installation for the window display of ELTTOB TEP ISSEY MIYAKE.
We controlled 8 fans with programming that the cloth is making a beautiful wave at the front window display (16m x 3m). We used openFrameworks to control the wind movement from the fans. It gives a movement and shape to the cloth.”

By WOW. More info and full credits here.


Breaking the surface
Reactive sculpture/landscape/space that reacts to visitors movements.

By Scandinavian Design Group and Ctrl+N. Detailed technical description and full credits can be read at Creative Application article.


“Underwater is a suspended installation that is articulated using data from the surface of water. A Microsoft Kinect was used to collect three-dimensional data from wave action on the surface of Lake Superior. This data is used to articulate the mechanical installation consisting of 81 of individual servomotors.”

Left: Kinect scanning the motion from the water/ right: motion sculpture mimicking the water movements<

“The complex and subtle movements on the surface of the water are simulated within the installation by the servomotors moving according to the collected data.”

Below an interview by DesignBoom where the author explains the project in detail. For more information check the complete article.

Bowen has another similar project, called “TELE-PRESENT WATER”, where instead of using a 3d camera to capture the waves motion he uses scientific data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data buoy station 51003 (205 nautical miles Southwest of Honolulu on the Pacific)

Motion Sequence from Tele-Present Water Installation
“The wave intensity and frequency collected from the buoy is scaled and transferred to the mechanical grid structure, resulting in a simulation of the physical effects caused by the movement of water from this distant unknown location. This work physically replicates a remote experience and makes observation of the activity of an isolated object, otherwise lost at sea, possible through direct communication.”

By David Bowen. For more information check the project pages:  Underwater small version, Underwater big version and Tele-Present Water series.

Left THE SENSER, right SAM

[divider]Digital kinetic mechanisms and performing robots [/divider]

One of the first robotic mechanism presented as an art piece was SAM by Edward Ihnatowicz.
A moving sculpture activated by sound that reacted to presence around it. It was presented in 1968 at the “Cybernetic Serendipity” in London, one of the first (or the first) exhibition dedicated to cybernetic/interactive/computer art. (video of SAM at the exhibition here).

Some years later (1970) Ihnatowicz created a bigger version named “The Senser”.
Check here a video of “the Senser” being exhibited at the Evoluon, in Eindhoven in 1970.


Petting Zoo
“Speculative robotic environment populated by artificial intelligent creatures that have been designed with the capacity to learn and explore behaviours through interaction with participants. Within this immersive installation interaction with the pets foster human curiosity, play, forging intimate exchanges that are emotive, evolving over time and enabling communication between people and their environment”

By Minimaform. More info here.


“BNJMN (pronounced Benjamin) is a mobile sensory image production mechanism. His works bring to question what it means to perceive the humanity or spirit possessed by an “artist” in the central act of creation”

By Danilo Wanner and Travis Purrington. More info here.


“We transfer physical systems into virtual ones. But what happens if this process is turned the other way around? Aerosol is an experiment, which investigates exactly this by using a particle system. The fascinating thing about a particle system is the emergent appearance.
A taut fabric surface gets formed into an undulated landscape by using a grid of 16 servo motors attached to the fabric. Due to gravitation a certain amount of small iron balls placed on top of the fabric are set in motion.”

“While observing the iron balls, you will notice individual behavior patterns in terms of the iron balls movements. There are loners racing over the fabric and running into others or there are groups separating rarely but having a strong cohesion. The material get part of the calculation.”

By Florian Born. More info here.


Huang Yi & KUKA
“A duet with an industrial robot KUKA. ‘Dancing face to face with a KUKA robot is like looking at my face in a mirror. I make KUKA mimic my movements, and I learn from him, I make myself dance like a machine.‘”

By Huang Yi. More info and full credits here.


Wave interference
“A kinetic sculpture made up of 88 fluorescent tubes; their light blocked except for a narrow slit, arranged horizontally running down the wall and onto the floor. A chain of cams run along one side to lift and lower each lamp in succession, creating a running wave along the length.
The movement of the waves will also create a slow changing drone from an organ placed nearby, creating the ominous tone reminiscent of a horror film score.”

By Robyn Moody. More info here.


> Performing robots

Absolut Quartet
A machine that generates in real-time a unique musical piece based on the input melody.
“The main instrument is a ballistic marimba, which launches rubber balls roughly 2m into the air, precisely aimed to bounce off of 42 chromatic wooden keys. The second instrument is an array of 35 custom-tuned wine glasses, played by robotic fingers. Finally, an array of 9 ethnic percussion instruments rounds out the ensemble.”

By Plebian Design. More info here.


Jagapparatus 1
A sci-fi robot ballet. Jagapparatus is a installation of performing laser robots and a short-film featuring the performance itself.

By Chris Cunningham. More info here.


A five track EP composed by Squarepusher and performed by the three robots (including a guitarist with 78 fingers and a drummer with 22 arms).

Squarepusher x Z-Machines EP ‘Music For Robots’

Z-Machines performing live, with music from Goth-Trad.

Making-off/Research and Design
Music by Squarepusher video produced by Daito Manabe. More info here.


Meet your creator
“A live theatrical performance with16x quadromotor drones – each equipped with LEDs and motorized mirrors – and 16x moving head spotlights; dancing in a joyous robot-ballet celebration of techno-spirituality. ”
“Using drones – reminiscent of something out of a post-apocalyptic, post-singularity sci-fi film – as programmable vertices in space; traditionally purveyors of surveillance, oppression and even death (both on screen and off), now purveyors of music, dance, joy, celebration, creativity, beauty”

By Marshmallow Laser Feast. More info here.


‘Tantra’ is the video for the Timo Maas new single, it “includes a machine that uses Arduino controlled ball dispensers, motorised rotating steel plates and LED lights to create a nexus between electronic music and a sound responsive mechanical object. ‘Tantra’ track was first deconstructed into MIDI parts, the data that specified notation, pitch and velocity. Each control signals are used as parameters – volume, vibrato, audio panning, cues – to run through the machine to control its movement.” (from Creative application’s article )

By Rhizomatiks, Music by Timo Maas.

Reactive environment, space augmented reality and sound sculptures

“Tessel is a kinetic sound installation investigating the perception of sound and space.
It is a sculpture that involves time and movement to continue the quest for a synesthetic perception of sonic and spatial phenomenons.”
“Tessel is based on the ‘pinwheel pattern’, a non-periodic tiling coined by mathematicians Charles Radin and John Conway, which allows the creation of an infinitely complex geometry, only constructed from a single right triangle. Here, the pinwheel is transformed to meet the movement requirements, resulting in a new pattern composed of 4 different triangles, which is then folded and transposed to the third dimension.
This peculiar geometric construction suggests that the work is only a part of a much wider whole, a finite element extracted from an infinite system.”

By David Letellier  and Lab(au). More info here.


“Made of 60 moving modules, HEXI is a responsive wall.
Its overall shape fluctuates, mirroring our movements.
Vacuum casted facets – machined aluminium and PVC – servos – depth camera”

By Thibaut.


The Aether Project
“The evolution of technology reveals an aspiration to place mind into matter in order to create tools that are subservient yet autonomous from humans. Architecture as a form of technology does not exist outside of this cultural aspiration. Concurrently, experiments in sensing technology express this desire to transform architecture into an intelligent form of technology that can autonomously negotiate between the human body, human psyche, the environment and other physical and perceptual parameters.”

Some details from the structure and the mapped projection

“Based on this premise, the Aether Project focuses on providing an immersive experience through real-time Leap Motion controlled system that synchronously aligns projection mapped visuals on a transforming surface geometry, both choreographed though robot movements. Thus, The Aether Project is designed to test the interaction between humans x robots, robot x robot, and the resulting recursive relationship between technology and human perception continuously. “

By Raman K. Mustafa, Refik Anadol, Julieta Gil, Farzad Mirshafiei
More info and full credits here.


“Resonance is a kinetic installation made of light, movement and a mirrored body. 
Its ever-changing multiplexed pattern of movement is literally coded in hardware. 
The abstract, moving light architecture merges with, expands, and adds a new dynamic to the actual physical space.”

By Art+Com. Music by Ólafur Arnalds


“Caten is a levitating sculpture, determined by gravity and guiding the evolution of a sound composition. 300 fine wires suspended from two ropes, connected themselves at each end to a slowly rotating arm, form an evanescent surface which interacts with the architecture.
By a symbolic mirror effect, the curves of the wires, created by the gravitational force, reflect the shapes of the church arches. Caten opposes the ephemeral to the eternal, the movement to the static, and produce a tension between the lightness and the millenary stability of the space.”

By David Letellier. More info here.


> Digitally manipulated mechanisms with reactive, interactive or pre-sequenced embedded behaviours

“Tri is a kinetic installation composed of triangular mirrors that move vertically and rotate around two axes in a complex choreography of flowing three-dimensional structures. 
Their physical movement is enhanced with ceiling lighting and an interplay between the reflective triangles and the dark, overlapping shadows they cast on the floor.”

By Art+Com. Music by Ólafur Arnalds.


Robot Spider Dress
“A prototype of a mechanic dress equipped with sensors indicators and controllers, created with the aim to give more power and ‘psychological thrills’ to the sugar sweet character that performative wearables often have. Sensoric, servo controlled, mechanic, microcontroller based and reacting//attacking upon approach, inspired by the game LIMBO. “

Below, an interview with Anouk Wipprecht during the project presentation at Cafe Neu Romance 2012.

By Anouk Wipprecht and Daniel Schatzmayr.


Fractoid 2.1
“Fractoid 2.1 is the second in a series of projection mapped sculptures.”

“Fractoid 2.1 is synched to futuristic beat-machines and operates based off of audience interaction. When certain combinations of keystrokes are entered on the midi controller, the kinetic sculpture has the ability to rotate into different 3 shapes. “

Below a scheme with the different stages of Fractoid.


By Gabriel Pulecio and Michael Russek. Sound Design: Sam Pool. More info here.


“Versus is a sound installation consisting of two kinetic sculptures placed face to face.”
“Each sculpture is made out of 12 triangular panels, hinged and powered by six linear actuators, controlled by a specific program. At the center of each corolla, a loudspeaker and a microphone allow to play and record sounds.
At regular intervals, each sculpture produces a sound, simultaneously recorded and analyzed by the opposite sculpture, which then moves according to the frequencies of this sound.
Like a feedback loop, it then plays back the recorded sound, with the errors and disturbances caused by the reverberating space and the visitors.”

By David Letellier . More info here.


“MegaFacades is a kinetic facade. It can transform in three dimensions to recreate the faces of visitors to Khan’s pavilion, a 2,000 m2 cube situated in the Olympic Park in Sochi during the 2014 Olympic Games.  It is a lit, moving sculpture which will be able to change shape and display physical portraits of visitors of the Olympic Park and sports fans from all over Russia”

Below a prototype test.

By  Asif-Khan and Iart.

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