Video: Stunning visual art shows physics of kung fu
Fri 6 May 2016
A new art piece created by German digital artist Tobias Gremmler showcases the dynamic physics behind the ancient art of Kung Fu.
Gremmler used motion capture technology to record a Kung Fu practitioner moving through a standard drill, then created a moving sculpture replacing the human form with a variety of different materials.
While Japanese martial arts tend to use linear methods of physical force, Chinese Kung Fu uses circular motion to power both offensive and defensive moves. This circular motion is highlighted in Gremmler’s study.
The video, entitled ‘Kung Fu Motion Visualization,’ shows four variations. The first, ‘Fabric Weaved by Time’ replaces the martial artist with flowing fabric, through which the person is barely visible. Variation 2, ‘Velocity Transforms into Matter’, takes the form of sand, tracing the motion of the body in the air. The third variation, ‘Expanding into Emptiness’ takes the form of tiny spears of light that extend well beyond the parameters of the original person while four, ‘Reconstructing Shapes from Motion’ uses the form of wooden sticks, reminiscent of ancient armor, to display the movement of Kung Fu.
Mr. Gremmler has several projects available to view on Vimeo, including ‘Nonlinear Sequencer’, an interactive installation exhibited at the Shenzhen New Media Arts Festival in 2014 that uses motion capture on individuals to transform their movement into light and sound, a ‘visualized sound cluster’, that is then transformed into music. Another project, ‘Biofeedback’, used a Microsoft Kinect sensor to create a body cloud of light, and pulse and breath sensor data was incorporated into the display.
The study of the science of martial arts has been a topic for physicists and other researchers. In Thalken’s book ‘Fight Like a Physicist: The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts’, the subject is pursued from an intellectual and practitioner point of view. A Polish researcher studied the kinetic motion of the Tak-Kwon Do side kick.
‘Kung Fu Motion Visualization’ was commissioned for a Kung Fu exhibition by the International Goshu Association and will be displayed in September for the Hong Kong public.