At first, this kinetic sculpture looks like 15 biomechanical insect legs twitching in mid-air, each one tipped by a small LED light. But watch long enough, and those lights synchronize. Soon, you don’t see the legs at all. All you see is the negative space between those lights: an invisible man, ambling along with a long-limbed gait, throwing his arms around as he strides.
Study In 15 Points / 1 is the first of a series of kinetic sculptures by Random International, the artistic collective behind Rain Room, an indoor gallery where it rains everywhere except where you’re standing. Compared to Rain Room, Study for Fifteen Points has a decidedly smaller scope: it’s an experiment in trying to determine the minimal amount of information necessary for an animated form to be recognized as human.
“We only started to explore this space and are fascinated in the space between the biological and the mechanistic motion, when the machine becomes human,” Random International’s Hannes Koch told The Creator’s Project. “When arranged and animated in order, the points of light represent the human anatomy … Instinctively, the brain is able to stitch the disparate points together and recognize them as one human form.”
Right now, Study for Fifteen Points / I stands only around two feet tall, but it will eventually come to New York’s Pace Gallery this fall as a human-sized sculpture. Future iterations of the project will try to animate a human doing things besides walking, although Random International hasn’t yet announced the exact motions these future sculptures will make: jumping rope, perhaps, or riding a bike?