Trond Kasper Mikkelsen

Trond Mikkelsen works with interaction and activation of the audience in a wide sense, with everything from mechanical sculptures to performance and happenings where the realization of the artwork depends entirely on the participation of the viewer. The mechanical sculptures in the series called A Tribute to the Mars Exploration Rovers are activated by foot pedals or pump-like hand driven mechanisms. A sort of over-complicated umbrella mechanism is used where each part is painstakingly shaped to create a perfect balance throughout the movement, a mechanical dance where motion in itself is the form. 

From a distance, the artistic production of Mikkelsen may seem eclectic, but interaction and participation are a common thread through all his projects. He has participated in exhibitions and festivals throughout Europe, as well as several times in China and Japan. His kinetic sculptures are inspired by Steampunk and simple mechanics, while at the same time reflect on how phenomena like origami inform the design of the most advanced spacecraft, on the relationship between crafts and technology, and how functionality sometimes ends up becoming a goal in itself. 

Mikkelsen starts with the idea of a certain motion and seeks to resolve this movement using simple four-bar linkages and clockwork mechanisms. By working with a combination of LEGO and 3D-printed parts the movement is perfected, and in parallel the parts are shaped to form a satisfactory visual whole throughout the transformation. The parts are then cut from clockmaker’s brass, titanium, and modern aluminum alloys, both by hand and by computer-controlled machines. The most advanced design tools are used to produce variations on mechanics known through centuries, while the love and respect for traditional crafts are always present in the background. 

A tribute to the Mars Exploration Rovers seeks to make us ponder the amount of labor put into seemingly pointless operations, the fine line between craft and technology, the very meaning of the term “craft”, and the inherent beauty of functionality. 

Tekst: Trond Mikkelsen