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Robert Spillner, born in Koblenz in the Rhineland region of south-western Germany, grew up with a fascination for mechanics, deeply felt already at an early childhood age. Consequently, Spillner found himself working for the automotive industry after graduating with degrees in engineering from the universities of Cologne and Bochum. “All I desired was to solve mechanical problems and invent new things,” says Spillner of his life-long passion. One of his early inventions, a steering valve, had an F1 team contact him right out after his first employment: “Within a year half of the F1 teams were using the valve that I had produced in the garage at home.”


It was his creative mind that triggered Spillner’s study of the perfect motion of bee’s wings, not unlike Leonardo da Vinci and pushed by the same artistic drive: Spillner went on inventing kinetic machines that simulated the bee wing’s motion following nature’s example. This prototype was so close to the bee´s example, that it was used in a research programme at the university Saarland


For the past twenty years and while pursuing a successful career in automotive engineering, Spillner created many elaborate and yet minimalist kinetic objects, which can be found in collections across Europe, Asia and the USA. Following the original spark of fusing engineering with art, Spillner in his studio and workshop in Düsseldorf creates those innovative machines deeply inspired by the patterns and mechanisms of nature, a ‘Deus ex Machina’ of sorts, equipped with a wonderful sense of humour.


Spillner’s latest creation is ‘Inverted Space´ and it is more brilliant than ever: A spherical kinetic sculpture that delivers infinite flow patterns of metallic liquid. “I wanted to create an image which would change in time, but not a video. I had this intuition one night that I needed to use molecules instead of mechanical parts. The result is absolutely mind-blowing: What you see are rotating galaxies or images that resemble those taken by weather satellites, simply because of the physics behind it” reveals Spillner, “or maybe what you see is similar to the otherworldly energy behind meditation… Either way, `Inverted Space´ is life in motion.”

Text by Roland de Fries, New York

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