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Art and micro-cosmos: kinetic art and mid-20th century cosmology
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 12:57 authored by Simon RycroftSimon Rycroft
Recent work by cultural geographers on visual art has emphasized performative and participatory aspects focusing upon the embodied and multi-sensory experience of encountering and being part of a work of art. Research on non-figurative art has much to offer in elucidating the relationships and distinctions between representation, non-representation and abstraction. Non figurative artists were representing or enacting a new kind of materiality, one that was putative, in process and ever changing. That materiality was based upon the adoption of a mid-20th-century cosmology and inspired by recent advances in the understanding of matter and the universe. Kinetic art, which is characterized by a set of abstract aesthetics that represent or reproduce real or illusory movement, was, especially in the post-war period, inspired by this new cosmology. Mid-century kinetic artists created non-figurative abstract models of the latest understandings to bring their associated energies, forces and motions to the senses of the viewer-participant. The models that kinetic artists produced in a variety of media were designed to be experienced in an embodied manner rather than simply viewed. These and other models of a mid-century cosmology signify a period in which the practices of representation were shifting significantly and consequently demand our attention.
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