Kinetic Art Moves Into Fleet Science Center
Artist Matthew Hebert remembers working for an architect in the 1990s, when computer-designed building models were still novel. Sometimes investors or others in the office would say they hated a building, but quickly change their mind once they saw an animation Hebert created flying through the three-dimensional model.
“Motion itself can be a powerful thing,” said Hebert, now an art professor at San Diego State University. “There’s an immediate way of engaging the viewer in a way that’s, not a gee-whiz factor, but there’s some of that.”
Motion is the subject of a new exhibit at the Fleet Science Center, a combination of art that either moves or is about movement with educational stations explaining concepts like waves or gravity. The exhibit, “So Moved: The Art and Science of Motion” runs through June 11.
Hebert’s “Filings” is part of the show. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary filing cabinet. But three peepholes are set in its drawers, and pressing a button near a drawer’s handle makes a motorized diorama inside come to life. Each of the three kinetic sculptures depicts a different stage in the oil extraction process.
“For me, the piece was really about time,” Hebert said. “I had this experience which made me think about this very brief history of oil being such a dominant part of our culture. It’s not that old. I didn’t want them to be static. The motion reinforces the notion of time. Having it move takes it out of the past.”
Other pieces require visitors to move themselves. Sculptor Dave Ghilarducci’s “Delayed Gratification” involves a stationary bicycle connected to an LED screen. Pedaling the bike causes words to flash across the screen one at a time. Pedal long enough and you might realize you’re reading Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World.” But each word stays on screen for 6.2 seconds, no matter how fast you pedal.
“I want a piece where you have to do physical labor and mental labor, and if you slip on one and don’t pay perfect attention, you’ll lose something,” Ghilarducci said. “If you look away to talk to a friend, you’ve missed a word and you can’t pedal back. And they come slow enough that it’s hard to string them together into sentences.”
Ghilarducci says he hopes the exhibit, combining art and science, will encourage conversations on both subjects.
"The terms 'Renaissance person' are freely thrown around to show that people respect mixing art and science," he said.
Hebert and Ghilarducci join KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday with more on why movement is so important to their art.