The Origin of Life

Kenning, Dean
Dean Kenning’s artworks include sculptures, videos and diagrams. He employs DIY, allegorical methods of representation, which explore political and philosophical material to create encounters that are both humorous and uncanny. The Origin of Life, 2019, was originally made for Kenning’s solo exhibition of the same name at Beaconsfield, London. The work takes its title from Soviet biochemist Alexander Oparin’s 1936 book, which hypotheses how living forms emerged from combinations of non-living material elements. Kenning’s installation consists of several second-hand synthesiser keyboards, distributed around the gallery floor, which are played by semi-flaccid rubber ‘fingers’. These are triggered via sensors by the movement of visitors as they move around it – chaotic symphonies are generated as the appendages repeatedly hit the keys. The work confronts the viewer as an agitated living thing, rather than a passive object of contemplation. Politically, Kenning’s kinetic practice, which he calls ‘vitalist kinetics,’ positions itself against high cultural seriousness and class-based art appreciation, through pathos and absurdity.
  • Artwork Details:
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Interactive kinetic sound installation
  • Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and Beaconsfield, London. Photo: Joe Walsh
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Installation
  • Accession number: ACC43/2021



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