Leaves rustling in the wind, clouds floating across the sky, waves rolling up and down. Evolution developed the human eye to notice this constant change in nature. The constant movement – unpredictable in its details and “chaotic” in the most beautiful sense – is apparently good for the soul. Why else would a fireplace fire or an aquarium have such a relaxing effect? The kinetic sculptures of Bert Schoeren also follow the principle of chaotic movement.
When the Dutch artist presents his works in mu seums, they are sooner or later surrounded by chairs: “I never mention it, but the exhibitors quickly realise that the furniture is needed”, explains the trained engineer for industrial design. “The visitors want to linger and watch the objects dance.” Not only does nature serve as Schoeren’s source of inspiration, but also as the operating power for his sculptures. If they are located outside, it is usually water and wind. Indoors, he prefers to use sunshine, as is the case in the solar mobile “Network”.
It hangs in the training centre of the Dutch energy company Alliander in Duiven. Ideal conditions can be found for his solar sculptures in the glass foyer: plenty of space and daylight. Fittingly, the building is also an active energy house, which produces more energy than it consumes. “I’ve found that technically oriented people enjoy such works of art a great deal”, explains the likewise technically inclined artist. “What’s more, by definition the solar mobiles emphasise the aspect of sustainability, which plays an increasing role in more and more companies.”
The mobile consists of 135 coloured plates with solar elements and small propellers, i.e., producers and consumers of energy, as the artist explains. Whenever the sun shines in the foyer, the small panels begin to produce electricity, each a different amount, as they are positioned at different angles to the incident sunlight. The collected solar energy is stored in small batteries. As soon as a battery is charged, the propeller begins to turn for a short time, moving an arm of the mobile in gentle chaotic circles. With each movement, the work of art forms a new, unpredictable structure, enlivening the room and its atmosphere.
The power of the sun is greatly reduced in a building, even with the largest glass façade. Of 100,000 lux outdoors, no more than 2,000 lux reaches the indoors. Thus, the power supply of the small panels is anything but lavish. To make optimum use of the limited energy, Bert Schoeren therefore set out to find the most efficient micromotor. He tried a number of different models. After testing, he found a clear winner: DCmicromotor 1224…SR with a diameter of 12 millimetres. This motor transforms the attenuated energy of the sun rays into mechanical power sufficient to produce the meditative and stressreducing motion of the mobile.