One the works on display in the exhibition “Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil - The Adolpho Leirner Collection” at Haus Konstruktiv in Zürich, Switzerland, is Abraham Palatnik’s Aparelho Cinecromático.
Abraham Palatnik is a pioneer of technological art. He was born in natal, Rio Grande do Norte, in 1928, to a family of Russian Jews that had settled there in 1919. When he was four years old, Abraham Palatnik went to Palestine, now Israel, with his family, where he went to school. He went on to take courses in mechanics and physics. Since his early childhood he had been drawing and he spent four years at an atelier studying drawing, painting, and aesthetics. Palatnik returned to Brazil in early 1948 and settled in Rio de Janeiro.
Abraham Palatnik dropped painting to adopt a different technique. He felt sure that using the latest technology, he could bring to “pictorial art the potential of light and motion in time and space”. He built his first two kinechromatic devices as experiments in 1949 and 1950.
In the catalog to the Abraham Palatnik retrospective exhibition at Itau Cultural Sao Paulo in the year 1999, Frederico Morais explains how Palatnik’s kinechromatic devices work: “On a plastic screen covering the front of his devices, he projected colors and forms driven by electric motors, creating a luminous effect with its own timing. Using motors and light bulbs, he replaced paint-as a material dimension-with refracted light. The timing of the lighting was controlled from a console with switches for each lamp. The viewer sees only the colored shapes projected onto the front of the kinechromatic device. Inside there were about 600 meters of electric wires in different colors, linking 101 lamps of varying voltages, rotating several cylinders at varying speeds. Light is projected through a set of lenses and shapes and a prism to refract colors.”