Kinetic Art vs. Graphics: Captured in Motion

The world is a non-stop whirl of motion that, when transferred into art or graphics, quite often has a tendency to stop in mid-air. The addition of movement to a structure turns it into kinetic art. The appearance of movement existing in a still photo or image is referred to as kinetic graphics.

With intense, or sometimes, soothing kinetic graphics, the motion is conveyed in the frozen-in-time images or art forms, creating the appearance of some form of activity or movement that is everlasting. Kinetic art is a unique way of expressing artistic skills that results in man made formations which, when put into motion, yield a mixture of reactions from people that flock to see it. Kinetic art and kinetic graphics are two completely separate entities and concepts in our world of art; however they have quite a few similarities as well.

Not Motion Graphics

Kinetic graphics and art are not to be confused with motion graphics, which can consist of frame-by-frame movement, such as an animated motion picture. These photos or slides are different forms of motion in pictures. Kinetic graphics is one picture that reflects an object or scenery that has been caught in a state of motion. Kinetic art is a structure that is build which requires movement to create the overall visual effect. The similarity, of course, is that all three present diverse aspects of art and they all do it with some type of motion.

Capturing Motion

Kinetic graphics captures the subject, whether human, cartoon or nature, in the air, in the water or on the ground, performing actions that are natural or completely out of the ordinary. The most awe-striking aspect of these graphics or art forms is the fact that they stay in motion even in their still form, in a picture on the pages of a book or on a billboard on the side of the highway forever. Even though the graphic sits on a flat surface picture, the motion still exists. These graphics convey the imagery of activity and bring the pictures to life, producing stimulation of the brainwaves that continue the concept of motion, even in their tranquil form.

Kinetic graphics began with sketched pictures of cartoons and characters and have slowly evolved into millions of images that appear to be suspended in motion, constantly and continuously moving. With the advancing technology that allows the manipulation of objects, the fast-paced emergence of computers and gaming systems, including the Sony Playstation and the Nintendo Wii, companioned with the graphics in the games, and digital cameras and camera phones that are becoming more capable of capturing pictures which are higher in quality, there is no doubt that kinetic graphics will continue to improve and develop as we move into the future.

Kinetic Art Forms

Kinetic art comes in the form of unusual artistic structures that move and intertwine together, creating sometimes bizarre displays for art shows and other imaginative and inventive gatherings where the artists are showcasing their work. Made from everyday items that are found around the home, including aluminum cans, silverware, bicycle wheels, and plenty of toss-away broken and otherwise unusable items, these innovative ideas capture the minds while they explore artwork beyond normal structures and appearances.

Kinetic art requires motion to present the complete effect of the artwork. Some are “run” by electricity or solar power and others may move with steam, depending on what the artist that builds it wants to use for movement. Many are set into motion with wind power, spinning furiously and rattling on the windiest days. Then, a few are put into motion by hand, with the crank of a handle that is ingeniously attached to it, allowing spectators to approach and create the movement for their own delight. Otherwise known as kinetic sculptures, these forms of art are quite distinctive and attract attention wherever they are located.

The History of Kinetic Art

Kinetic art was first introduced in 1913 by Marcel Duchamp, who created the famous Bicycle Wheel. The 1950’s and 60’s saw an explosion of kinetic art as several artists decided to put their creative juices to work, inventing amazingly large and fascinating kinetic statues and objects. This type of kinetic art became much more popular; you might see an amazing wind-functioning structure with color-glazed bottles and metal arms on the side of the road in the middle of a corn field. You may even find one displayed in front of a brand new, high tech building in the city, flaunting the name of the designer on a plaque situated on the sidewalk beside it.

Regardless of what type, style or form the kinetic designs (of both kinetic graphics and kinetic art) come in, they are all symbolizing the concept of movement or functionality combined with art.  Below are some pictures of the graphics and artwork that have been described above, captured in their kinetic state.

Kinetic graphics

… can come from nature, with the inspiration of waterfalls…

Or a surfer catching the waves on the ocean

Water rushing through a cave

On A Windy Day…

They can be in mid-air…

In the water…

Or moving at high speed…

Kinetic graphics can be abstract…

It can appear to be constantly moving…

Kinetic art forms


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Bethany is a freelance writer and happily married mother of 6 that loves to travel and experience thrill-seeking adventures.