Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham and Hans Haacke


  • Christina Chau University of Western Australia



Jack Burnham, Kinetic Art, Hans Haacke, Systems Aesthetics


The following paper argues that Jack Burnham’s antipathy for kineticism in “Systems Esthetics” and Beyond Modern Sculpture has contributed to an assumption that kineticism is an obsolete practice “rooted in another age.” Contrary to Burnham, I argue that a focus on the kinetic movement in Hans Haacke’s sculptures is productive for establishing key understandings of systems theory in art. My interpretation of Haacke’s art emphasizes that movement in time is a key aspect of the artist’s approach to sytems theory, and is useful for making viewers conscious of the systems of perception at play when confronted with ontologically unstable works of art.


Author Biography

Christina Chau, University of Western Australia

Christina Chau is a lecturer at the University of Western Australia in the School of Social Sciences, and the Department of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts. Christina’s Ph.D. thesis is titled “The Polemics of Contemporary Kinetic Art History: Duration, Systems Aesthetics and the Virtual.”




How to Cite

Chau, C. (2014). Kinetic Systems: Jack Burnham and Hans Haacke. Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture, 3, 62–76.