School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles


Christina Chau

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 7218

Start date

Feb 2009

Submission date

Feb 2013

Christina Chau

Christina Chau profile photo


Polemics of Contemporary Kinetic Art History: Duration, Systems Aesthetics and the Virtual


This thesis addresses a number of roles and effects of kinetic art in contemporary art history. Even though the use of actual movement is common across a variety of artistic disciplines, the term ‘kinetic art’ has often been regarded as a forgotten and obsolete avant-garde practice that has come to be considered in art history as a modern machinic precursor to contemporary media art practices. Recently, however, a number of artists and art institutions have focused on avant-garde and contemporary kinetic art to capture some of changing conceptions of temporality and inform a consciousness of contemporaneity today. This renewed attention to kinesis in art highlights some of the misconceptions that are central to considering kineticism as an antiquated historical practice, such as Michel Fried’s resistance to duration in art, Jack Burnham’s appropriation of general systems theory, and Frank Popper’s approach to demateriality and virtuality. By drawing from artists that use movement to expand the perceptions of temporality in their art, such as Jean Tinguely, Hans Haacke, Anthony McCall, László Moholy-Nagy and Olafur Eliasson, this thesis argues that the effects of movement can be both material and immaterial, emergent and incipient with the ability to communicate systems aesthetics.

Why my research is important

My research onkinetic art contributes to understanding the peculiar consciousness of time in contemporary art and is relevant to those interested in ongoing conceptualisations of temporality in art, contemporary art history, media art theory, modernity, contemporaneity, and kinetic sculpture.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award 2009-2013
  • UWA Top-Up Award 2009-2013

Jean Tinguely, Study for an End of the World no. II (1962)