Ned Kahn, an artist who has a background in environmental science, explores natural phenomena through his art. His works typically incorporate fluid dynamics, optics, acoustics, and other features of physics. During the 1980s, he was an apprentice to physicist Frank Oppenheimer at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, which Oppenheimer founded. Kahn’s works include Tornado, a simulation of the chaotic phenomenon, and Gaussian Melody, whose pin array, related to the Gaussian distribution, produces a random tune. Converting abstract principles into tangible representations, Kahn’s work is accessible to a vast and diverse audience, attracting and holding the attention of children, adults, artists and physicists alike.
For the last 20 years, Ned Kahn has been creating interactive sculptures inspired by everything from wind and waves to black holes and galaxies. Created using simple materials such as water, sand and air, Kahn’s artworks are not just celebrations of nature – they are inspired by fluid dynamics and other aspects of science. Many of his artworks reveal the way patterns can emerge when things flow. These patterns are not static objects, they are patterns of behavior – recurring themes in nature.
Working out of Ned Kahn Studios in Sebastopol, California, he has designed exhibits for museums in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan and has completed numerous public art commissions. In recent years, much of his work has focused on creating artworks that are activated by the movement of wind, water or light. He views these artworks as “detectors” in that they reveal some invisible or unnoticed phenomena and capture the mysteriousness of the world around us. Kahn’s exhibits strike an emotional chord, reminding the viewer of nature’s capacity to inspire apprehension, serenity, wonder and awe.