Whirling Chaos: A Multisensory Kinetic Art System

Joe Cusumano
Bridges: Mathematical Connections in Art, Music, and Science (1999)
Pages 257–264


A kinetic art system that recontextualizes a scientific experiment into a museum/gallery environment is described. Phenomenologically, the sculptural installation deals with instability and chaos in the nonlinear dynamics of a whirling flexible rod. The complete interactive system consists of a mechanical kinetic sculpture with integrated electromechanical excitation, sensors, signal conditioning and audio special effects electronics, speakers, digital oscilloscope, and a video projection subsystem. In simple didactic terms, the sculpture serves as large-scale system for experiencing nonlinear dynamical phenomena in a direct, playful way that engages the senses. More fundamentally, this art system raises questions about the process of data abstraction and transformation, important in science both as an extension to our natural senses as a source of new theoretical ideas.