Artists make metal and stone come alive

Peugeot presented its first crossover as a kinetic sculpture. The car was placed in a rotating transparent sphere. This way the car can be seen from almost any side. The structure is installed near Paris. Basically, this is not just an ad but a full-fledged art piece.

Kinetic sculpture is a relatively new form of art that appeared in the mid-20th century. By “playing” with light and movements, artists that work with this style create captivating optical illusions and interpret original ideas in a new way.

Such objects are unique and it is worth it to visit a city where such an object is installed even if a traveler does not have time for other sights. Here are ten significant moving monuments. All of them are so remarkable that even if these cities had no other landmarks, you should visit them just for one such object.

The Irish Wave in Dublin. By Angela Connor

The tallest (35.3 m) moving sculpture in Europe was unveiled on 3 October 2003. Connor spent two years working on it. First, a working model of 45 cm was made. When it became clear that the idea was feasible, they started working on a full-scale monument.

Irish Wave in Dublin
Irish Wave in Dublin

The sculpture is a complicated wave-like stela made of steel and carbon fiber. Under wind the Irish Wave can oscillate with the amplitude of up to 6 m but it always returns to the starting point: this is why there is a lead counter-weight of 9 tons in the lower part of the monument.

The sculpture symbolizes nature and people constantly striving towards balance and is supposed to help alleviate stress caused by intense work.

The Danube Bicycle in Budapest. By Zoltan Kecskemeti

The Danube Bicycle

The sculpture standing in Danube in the center of the Hungarian capital was unveiled in 2009. The river current moves the wheels whereas the chain transmission also moves the biker’s legs. As a result, he looks as if he was driving on water.

The author wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues and to remind that a bicycle is an efficient mode of city transport. The statue unites two most environmentally friendly sources of energy: human muscle force and water current.

The location was also selected intentionally: the most popular Trans-European bike route of approximately 1200 km from Donaueschingen in Germany to Budapest goes along the coast of Danube.

The Head of Franz Kafka in Prague. By David Černý

The monument was unveiled on 31 October 2014. The sculpture consists of 42 intricate panels made of stainless steel with mirror polish. They can move independently forming numerous configurations and intermittently folding into the head of Franz Kafka.

Head of Franz Kafka

The author decided that movement was necessary to represent the writer’s personality in a more accurate way. The base of the monument is covered in mirrors. This creates an impression that the monument levitates in the air.

Investors who financed the monument had one condition: the sculpture should function in all weather conditions. When it is very cold or it snows, the monument is protected with a special transparent cover. The monument cost the city council 30 million Czech crowns.

The Prague Metronome. By Vratislav Karel Novak

In a way this is a political manifesto representing the relentless passage of time. The sculpture was installed in 1991 in the Air Gardens of the Czech capital on the pedestal left from the Joseph Stalin’s monument.

Prague Metronome

The 24 m tall metronome with the pendulum 20 m long was supposed to symbolize the relentless passage of time. Now this is one of the most famous landmarks of the Air Gardens.

Besides, the Prague Metronome “starred” in the sixth season of a well-known Czech TV show The Octopus: one of the characters meets a Czech agent in the Air Gardens.

Initially the Metronome was supposed to work only during the United Czecho-Slovak exposition. However, the sculpture was popular and the Prague authorities decided to keep it.

Animated monument to Nikolay Basov in Usman. By IT group Otkritie

The Nikolay Basov alley (he was a Nobel prize winner and one of the creators of laser technologies) was opened in his home town in 2021. IT group “Otkritie” created a system of holographic animation that projects a 3D-portrait of the scientist on his bust.

Animated monument
Animated monument

This involves a powerful projector and a remote-control computer system. The hologram makes the monument come alive and speaks to fellow townsmen and guests of Usman with the voice of Nikolay Basov. It did not end with a voiceover: the hologram copies mimics, movements of lips, and emotions.

After a welcome speech by the scientist, a bright laser 3D show known as the “Basov phenomenon” is projected onto the monument.

The Dachshund monument in Tromso. By Inghild Karlsen and Bo Bisgaard

A Scandinavian version of the Hatiko story. Tromso is a small town but a large port and a university center. It is even called “The Paris of the North.” So it’s unsurprising that this is where an original modern sculpture dedicated to dog loyalty appeared.

Dachshund monument in Tromso

According to a local legend, a dachshund from Tromso came to the pier every day to wait for her master, a fisherman. One day, during a storm, he did not return. But the loyal dog kept coming to the pier.

The authors made the monuments so that under strong wind, the dachshund’s tail would rotate as if the dog was nervous. However, some tourists think that the dog might have missed her steamboat.

Kinetic rain in the Changi Airport (Singapore). By the German collective Art Com

The sculpture is made of two sets of metal “drops” suspended on thin cables. There are over 1200 of them in total. At first sets of “drops” move synchronously and then in an inverse manner, creating an illusion of planes, air balloons etc.

Thanks to lighting there is a “shadow show” on the ceiling. The authors aimed to create a space to calm down and to think in the center of one of the largest and busiest airports of the world.

The sculpture also includes national motives. The kinetic rain helps even transit passengers who cannot visit the city between flights “feel” Singapore.

The Ali and Nino statue in Batumi. By Tamara Kvesetadze

This monument to eternal love was installed in the capital of Adjara on 14 October 2010 and called “Man and Woman.” The sculpture received its current name in 2011 after a nover of the same name by Kurban Said (this is a pseudonym and the author’s real name is unknown) about the love of a Georgian woman Nino and an Azeri man Ali.

For ten minutes, metal figures 8 m tall made of metal panels approach one another, become one and move away again. The mechanism is turned on after 19:00 because lights make the structure more impressive.

Initially, the sculpture stood near water. However, drops of water started to destroy it so the Batumi authorities decided to move the monument 50 m away from the sea.

A multimedia forest projected on architectural monuments. By Nazia Mestaui

The “One heartbeat — one tree” show. Images of trees are projected onto famous buildings. With a heartbeat sensor anyone can connect to the projector control system via an app and “grow” their own virtual 3D tree on an architectural monument.

The system transforms the pulse energy into electricity and visualizes this process: the harder and faster a heart beats while the app is used, the faster and taller a tree grows. The campaign is dedicated to climate change and was first held during the 21st international conference about this issue in Paris in 2015.

Since then it was also held in London (trees “grew” on the Tower Bridge), Berlin (the Brandenburg Gate was covered in greenery) and other cities.

Mastaba. By Christo

A swimming installation looks like a trapezoidal pyramid of 7500 multicoloured barrels as tall as an Egyptian sphynx and weighing 600 tons. The structure is located at the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park in London. It is held in place by 32 anchors, and each of them weighs 6 tons.

It is interesting to note that the works were completed in two and half months but the author spent a year fighting for the park administration’s approval.

The approval was given under the condition that 70 trucks bringing parts of the sculpture would move at the speed of about 1 mile (1.6 km) per hour so as not to disturb visitors.

Red, blue and pink prevails in the project’s colour scheme. This ensures a contrast between the greenery and the sky while the reflection of the pyramid in the water becomes an abstract masterpiece of its own.

  1. very nice blog!

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  3. Thank you so much for letting me express my feeling about your post.

  4. The structure is installed near Paris. Basically, this is not just an ad but a full-fledged art piece.

  5. Amazing write-up!

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