art and landscape : outdoor strategies for critical perception    
  Gift of the Wind by Susumu Shingu      
    Gift of the Wind + photos
    about Shingu
        4.213J/11.308J Urban Nature and City Design

The city of Cambridge has had an invigorating awareness of the importance of its urban landscape and has tried to provide a public space where citizens, in adition benefiting from accessibility, commodity and mobility in their physical environment, can also enjoy from the city's public life. One of the projects that is intrinsically connected to the transformation of a place is the sculpture "The Gift of the Wind" by Susumu Shingu. Located at Porter Square, it was commissioned in 1983 by the private company Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) through the Cambridge Arts Council's Arts On The Line Program. Presently this art work belongs to the MBTA art collection.

This project was conceived at the same time as the Porter Square Subway and Commuter Rail Station was being constructed. Shingu was invited to design one of his kinetic works in association with the Cambridge Seven Associates, the studio responsible for the architecture and construction of the station. This public art project was also intended to celebrate the expansion of the MBTA subway red line service to Alewife.

Shingu's project fulfilled what was expected of a modern monument. In the words of the Architect Louis Bakanowsky, founder of the Cambridge Seven Associates, "(...) the challenge of modern sculpture is not the making of closed, volumetric objects. Instead, today's sculpture must deal with issues of space, movement and address a much wider set of references" and Shingu's work was able to "create a resonance between the viewer's own inner rhytms and those of the larger world of nature."

Susumu Shingu has developed a unique and exclusive art practice inspired by the mobile and kinetic artistic movement also reclaiming a broader awareness of the possibilities and relations of natural forces within art. Shingu has tactically developed a style of his own, deeply inspired by and concerned with the environment and the world of natural forces. Besides the technology used, his sculptures are sophistically made of wind, water and light transformed, to provoke an experience of a combination of reflection, diffraction, flow and gravity in the city landscape but also in the wilder ones too. Shingu's projects celebrate the possibilities that nature has to show itself in unpredictable ways.

"The Gift of the Wind" is a wind sculpture that mediates one's contact with nature, giving shape and making visible the energy of the wind. It's a tall sculpture that contains coloured red "wings" composed of 3 half-disks rotating vertically and horizontally.

It's one of Cambridge's most visible landmarks.

  drawing by Susumu Shingu model by Susumu Shingu