Mathematics and physics come alive in kinetic sculptures

Mathematics and physics come alive in kinetic sculptures

‘But Men Do Not See’ introduces Johannesburg art lovers to the extraordinary works of young Capetonian artist Justin Fiske. The exhibition can be seen at the Standard Bank Gallery until December 7.

Fiske weaves his fascination with mathematics, physics and simple mechanical principles together to create kinetic sculptures with a poetic touch and a Zen-like quality. Intended to evoke curiosity, his installations, manufactured from wood, metal, string and pebbles, encourage viewers to interrogate the complexities of motion and the mechanics which make this visible.

Fiske, an award-winning artist who is driven by a need to find simple mechanical solutions to issues of motion and suspension, makes intriguing and beautiful works that prompt the viewer to ask, “How is that done?” His installations, “mini experience machines”, as he calls them, are interactive, but not in the sense of virtual interaction, which is the way most people understand the term today. In many of his works, a handle is operated that allows an array of small pebbles, suspended at regular intervals on threads, to move in wave and helix patterns, creating a sort of dance.

What he aims for is “the elegance of a simple mechanical experience”. Essentially then, Fiske’s work is a reaction against today’s digital, “over-technologised” world, to use his words, and a tribute to the old analogue world and the machine age.

As with all artists, Fiske is driven by the need for self-realisation through creativity but unlike artists who are motivated by a desire to change social or political attitudes, he makes work for his own benefit, to get what he needs from it, and to satisfy his own interests. “What I do,” says Fiske, “is pure self-indulgence.” He is, however, very grateful that he happens to “make stuff that resonates with people”.

For his exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery, Fiske has made a new body of works in keeping with his interest in motion, machines and suspension against gravity. Also included on the show are re-executions of some of his earlier works, including those previously shown on exhibitions in Japan and Switzerland.

* The Standard Bank Gallery is situated on the corner of Simmonds and Frederick Streets, Johannesburg. The Gallery is open from Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 4.30pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
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