Wind-Powered Art: Air Sculptors & Sculptures Harness Nature


As the battle over climate change is waged, there’s a group of sculptors who are leaping ahead of the crowd and utilizing wind power already. Artists create wind powered sculptures to make a statement about the combination between nature and art, or just because wind is a plentiful power source. Whether sculptures are kinetic or static, gritty and down to earth, or large and exotic, wind powered sculptures bridge the boundaries between man and nature.


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Joshua Allen Harris is known for his unique and enjoyable sculptures made out of garbage bags. Limp and lifeless, they lay on sidewalk grates like piles of garbage. The wind from a rushing subway train below, however, will slowly bring the garbage bags to life, as they fill with air and inflate into beautiful creatures. Passerby are surprised and delighted, as the mundane street debris turns into a delightful sculpture.


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Theo Jansen is a renowned Dutch artist who creates kinetic sculptures out of plastic tubes, that are more creature than art. He places these wind powered beasts on the coast and lets the wind give them a life of their own. A mix between engineering and art, they are entirely wind powered, and will shamble along without any need for direction or internal power sources.


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The artistry of kinetic sculpture is varied and beautiful. Wind causes these sculptures to twist and turn, and their counterbalances and carefully weighted components require only the slightest nudge to begin a random and undulating movement. Wind powered art is no longer just a fake wind mill sitting on your lawn, it now makes up exhibition pieces in some of the most famous museums the world over.


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It’s interesting how many artists like to emphasize the combination of natural forces and man made materials by creating wind powered sculptures in the shape of trees or organic looking structures. Some artists go an entirely different direction, however, by creating sculptures that look entirely alien and disconnected from nature, until the whistle of wind through their tubes reveal them to be just as connected as the rest of us.


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The Singing Ringing Tree is a musical structure found in Lancashire, England, which makes beautiful tones whenever a light breeze sweeps by its exposed tubes. With the effect of blowing over the open neck of a bottle, times a thousand, this structure fills the air with music. The Singing Ringing Tree makes wind chimes seem like child toys; its music and organic shape reawakens a passion for the natural world that’s unexpected from something constructed out of such industrial materials.