Reconstruction of Proto-Tensegrity Sculpture by Karlis Johansons
With this project I aimed to draw attention to Karlis Johansons' work and help people learn how to reconstruct it. I reconstructed one of his sculptures based on the photographs of the original and shot the reconstruction process on a video. My photographs show the reconstructed Karlis Johansons sculpture. The video offers a visual guide on how to make this kind of sculpture. When making the sculpture in order to connect the bamboo poles I chose steel cables, because they were used in the original design. By being forced into opposite directions with the help of the attached cables the poles create a self-tensioned object.
Karlis Johansons is the inventor of self-tensioned kinetic sculptures. In spite of the lack of recognition by art historians, Karlis Johansons' works influenced the Bauhaus movement and were referenced by László Moholy-Nagy. Karlis Johansons was a member of the Constructivist art movement. He was the first artist who created self-tensioned sculptures and exhibited them at the museum in 1921.
He brought nine self-tensioned sculptures to exhibitions in Moscow and MoMA, New York in 1921. There is no other proof of his invention besides the photographs from these two exhibitions. His destiny remains unknown after Constructivist artists were repressed by the government. Later the same design principle was expanded and named 'Tensegrity' (tension + integrity) by Robert Buckminster Fuller in 1955. After that, tensegrity structures became more popular and were used in art and architecture worldwide.
*Tensegrity - a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially. It applies when a discontinuous set of compression elements is opposed and balanced by a continuous tensile force, thereby creating an internal prestress that stabilizes the entire structure.