Indexer II

Kenneth Snelson
2002; Stainless Steel; Sculpture
North Campus; South end of Reflecting Pool, on west side of Cooley Building

Gift of the Engineering Class of 1950. “Snelson…discovered certain relationships governing tensioned structures ultimately called ‘tensegrity’, which yielded infinite interlocking geometric forms of great beauty and strength… The steel cables and polished stainless steel tubes often soaring weightlessly up to surprising heights in the large works are held erect only by a gossamer spider web of tension wires. The forces created from element to element are organized according to a principle of tension and compression invented by the artist.” “Tensegrity” was a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller from “tension” and “integrity” based on principles Snelson had shown Fuller. Snelson prefers the term “floating compression,” but defines tensegrity in his pieces: “Tensegrity describes a closed structural system composed of a set of three or more elongate compression struts within a network of tension tendons, the combined parts are mutually supportive in such a way that the struts do not touch one another, but press outwardly against nodal points in the tension network to form a firm, triangulated, prestressed, tension and compression unit.”