Beautiful, Creepy “Breathing” Kinetic Sculpture

Sculptures are nice to look at, but they’re just so…sculpturey. All they do is sit there. That’s why people like kinetic sculptures. One sculpture by South Korean artist U-Ram Choe stands out because it appears to breathe.It’s titled “Custos Cavum,” Latin for “Guardian of the Hole.” It’s meant to be a skeletal seal (you know, those mammals you’ve seen hanging out by Pier 39 in San Francisco), but this thing looks like a miniaturized version of one of the sandworms from “Dune.” You expect an even more miniaturized Paul Atreides to come in with his blue, glowing eyes and start riding the sculpture. Choe calls it an “anima-machine.”

You could watch it “breathe” for hours, as the YouTube video above attests. It’s a fascinating blend of the organic and the mechanical.

Choe has come up with an interesting story:

“Once upon a time, there were two worlds. They were connected to each other through a number of small holes, as if the worlds were breathing through these holes. However, the holes had a tendency to close up, so there were guardians next to each one to keep them open. The guardians were called “Custos Cavum.” They took the form of seals and had large front teeth, which they used to gnaw the holes to prevent them from closing up.”

Custos Cavum kinetic sculpture

If you want to actually see “Custos Cavum” in person, it’s being displayed at the Asia Society Museum in New York City, so if you’ve got some vacation time or frequent flier miles you want to use up before the end of the year, absorbing some culture in the Big Apple might be a good way to put your time to good use. You should also read this interview with the artist.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll want to check  out our list of 18 Extraordinary Kinetic Sculptures, another Kinetic sculpture that creates a neat optical illusion, and a kinetic toothpick sculpture of San Francisco that took 35 years to create.