Born in 1947, Manhattan based sculptor, painter and inventor Tom Shannon attended the University of Wisconsin and the Art Institute of Chicago where he received a Master of Fine Art degree. His paintings are made by swinging a giant pendulum rigged with six remote control paint guns over a canvas. “It is a marriage of chaos and control.”
“My focus in recent years has kind of shifted more toward biology. Some of these paintings, when you look at them very close, there are odd things appear that really look like horses or fishes or birds or crocodiles, elephants. There are lots of things that appear when you look into it. It’s sort of like looking at cloud patterns. But sometimes they are very mottled, and highly rendered. And then there are all these forms that we don’t know what they are, But they are equally well resolved and complex. So, I think, conceivably those could be predictive, because since it has the ability to make forms that look like forms that we’re familiar with in biology, It’s also making other forms that we’re not familiar with. And maybe it’s the kind of forms that we’ll discover underneath the surface of Mars, where there are probably lakes with fish swimming under the surface.”
Shannon’s sculptures have been exhibited in galleries and institutions around the globe, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. “His clever orchestrations of hidden magnets and tiny suspension cables make otherwise inert materials such as steel and wood take on a truly otherworldly quality — bringing objects like planets, stars and atoms to a scale you can understand (and touch).”
Shannon was featured artist at the 2003 TED Conference where he presented Air Genie, a spherical helium airship whose entire surface is a LED video screen. He designed the TED Prize, the Buckminster Fuller prize and the Trophee Jules Verne installed at the Musee de la Marine in Paris. Recent outdoor work includes a hovering sculpture at the entrance of Kansai Electric in Osaka and a hovering work at Chateau La Coste. Shannon also holds the patents for the first tactile telephone, a color television projector and a synchronous world clock that is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
To see more of Tom Shannon’s work, visit TomShannon.com. Visit TED for videos on his pendulum paintings and anti-gravity sculpture.