The nature of sculpture

3732978791_6e031327fb_b As the developer of principles of "tensegrity" in his art, Kenneth Snelson's work been investigated by NASA as one possible explanation for how the human body reacts to weightlessness, as well by medical researchers, who now understand that cellular structure use those principles to hold their nuclei in place and maintain their shape.

Tensegrity structures maintain a strong but flexible shape using forces that simultaneously push and pull against each other, which is in contrast to structures like walls and arches that rely on continuous compression for their shape and strength. They use the shortest and strongest length between two points in three dimensional objects, a simple architecture nature exploits over and over again in complex systems.

There are other creative principles at work, however, that are of equal importance to humans. On Snelson's web site, one review of his sculptures begins by pointing out one attribute that I believe many innovators share: a willingness to break the rules.

"Artists think Snelson's sculptures involve too much engineering, and scientists think they are too esthetic. 'Hardening of the categories', Snelson replies, 'leads to art disease.'"


Image: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0