3D UNIT VIII: Dynamics

Project VIIIE



studio fundamentals: To understand and experiment with the elements of "time, change, and motion" in the construction of three-dimensional forms.

concepts: To explore how sculptural form can be understood as the product of dynamic forces. To explore how different cultures have harnessed the wind for creative purposes.

technical: To introduce a range of methods for creating kinetic sculptures powered by the wind.


Project Overview Your challenge is to create a kinetic sculpture that is powered by the wind and alludes to a culture other than your own.

Project References

Lew Alquist, Umberto Boccioni, Alexander Calder, Hans Haacke, Ned Kahn, Vollis Simpson, Robert Smithson, Art at the Exploratorium, Whirlygigs and Papalotes.
Vocabulary kinetic, aeolian, dynamic, phenomena, friction, airflow, "weathervaning," propellor, whirlygigs, papalotes


Materials for this project are open-ended.


1. Before coming to class read the concept area of Border Crossing and the Unit VIII Discussion on Dynamics in the 3D matrix. Check out the Unit references.

2. Do some research in the library and on the Web in the area of "Whilygigs" or other "wind-powered" structures found world wide.


a) Make some initial "thumbnail sketches" of some whirlygigs you feel were successful from your research. Considering the requirement to "allude to a culture other than your own," what geographic location and images would be interesting to use?

b) Identify and design the key features that will make up the mechanical components of your whirlygig. Will you use a propellor...or would some other windcatcher be more appropriate (e.g., paddle wheels, flapping wings, a series of cups) for your design? What feature(s) will enable the sculpture to "weathervane" so that it faces into the wind?

c) How can the mechanical motion of the whirlygig complement and be integrated with the imagery you have selected? What materials, colors, supplemental surface markings, types of connectors, symbolism, figuration are appropriate?

d) Using your initial research, your thumbnail sketches, and your finished sculpture as resources, write a page that discusses your ideas and the final project. Put this page into your notebook.

Critique Ideas


When you have completed your sculpture, pair up with another artist and trade critiques. Consider the following:

1. Describe the techniques used to create the sculptures and explain how various aspects of the problem were addressed such as material choice, cultural and geographic refereces, the method of solving the mechanical problem, etc.

2. How does the whirlygig compare with other whirlygigs you have seen?

3. Discuss ideas the artwork seems to communicate. After some sharing of interpretations, attempt to describe the effect of the work in one sentence. (This artwork is about...)



Your notebook should include the following:

1. Evidence of your research (print-outs from magazines, web searches, interviews with kids, teachers, young parents, etc.).

2. Your design process (drawings, computer-printouts, photos, etc).

3. Supplemental materials (receipts, notes about techniques or materials)

4. Documentation of the final work and, if possible, a video clip of your whirlygig in operation. Consider translating video clip into "Quicktime" movie suitable for viewing over the Web.

The above project was developed by Dan Collins.

Return to UNIT VIII Overview