At MusicalExpert, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Mobiles are dangling sculptures that hang as decoration, art, or an educational tool. Most people are familiar with those that hang above cribs, play music, rotate, and give an infant something to focus on. These sculptures can also be projects for school-aged children that allows them to represent a family outing, favorite book, or science concept. Alexander Calder elevated the mobile form to high art with his oversized sculptures designed for outside spaces or solariums.
In general, mobiles are groups of suspended, three-dimensional items that have several smaller objects, such as seashells or stuffed animals, hanging from crossbars. A prototypical one would have a main string to which several horizontal supports are tied. Then a series of objects are tied to these braces, usually at different heights. Beyond that simple definition, the decoration may be tiny, heavy, delicate, playful, translucent, musical, or informative.
The most common kind are introduced in the home during a baby shower. This device is designed to hang over a baby's crib, bassinet, rocker, or even car seat. With batteries, these plastic devices rotate and play lullabies or nursery rhymes. They are meant to soothe fussy babies and entertain their developing brain as they begin to be able to visually focus, understand color, and hear melodies. As a baby falls asleep, he or she is quieted by the music, but if the infant wakes up unexpectedly, he or she will have something interesting to stare at, such as blocks, animals, or simple shapes in primary colors.
Children may design other mobiles as part of a challenging, artistic project. A child who has been studying ancient Egypt could create one that incorporates a mummy, pyramid, scarab beetle, and a scroll of papyrus. If he needed to illustrate the various stages of metamorphosis for a butterfly, he could cut out drawings of a larvae, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. Thematically, people typically assume the different objects included in the sculpture have something in common as they turn and flutter in the breeze.
Alexander Calder is well known for his abstract, graceful, swinging mobiles. Most of his are large enough to take up a room or an entire museum's lobby. Their sweeping arcs connect organic, amoeba-like shapes, usually in bright or simple colors like red, white, blue, yellow, and black. They tend to slowly rotate or counter-balance themselves so they're in constant motion, even away from wind. Calder was inspired by kinetic sculptures with expert mechanics and engineering. Some people describe them as planets in orbit, autumn leaves about to fall off a tree, or electrons spinning around a nucleus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is a mobile?
A mobile is a type of kinetic sculpture that is designed to move and balance in the air, often suspended from a ceiling or stand. It consists of rods and shapes that can move independently, creating a dynamic and changing piece of art. The American sculptor Alexander Calder is credited with inventing the mobile in the early 20th century, bringing a new dimension to sculpture by incorporating movement.
How do mobiles move?
Mobiles move through the interaction of subtle air currents with their balanced components. Each part of a mobile is carefully designed to have a certain weight and length, allowing it to rotate or sway when air moves around it. The movement is also influenced by the distribution of weight and the pivot points where the rods and shapes are connected, creating a harmonious and fluid motion.
Are mobiles only used as art?
No, mobiles are not solely used as art. While they are indeed artistic expressions, mobiles also serve educational and developmental purposes. For instance, mobiles are commonly used above cribs to stimulate and entertain infants, aiding in their visual and cognitive development. Additionally, they can be found in scientific and educational settings, such as planetariums, where they model celestial movements and systems.
What materials are used to make mobiles?
Mobiles can be made from a wide variety of materials, including metal, wood, plastic, paper, and fabric. The choice of material often depends on the desired aesthetic and the environment where the mobile will be displayed. For example, Calder's mobiles were typically made of painted metal sheets and rods, which allowed for durability and a smooth movement. Modern mobiles may also incorporate recycled or sustainable materials as a nod to environmental consciousness.
Can mobiles be considered therapeutic or calming?
Yes, many people find the gentle, rhythmic movement of mobiles to be therapeutic and calming. The slow, predictable motion can provide a sense of relaxation and can be used as a visual focal point for meditation or stress relief. In some cases, therapists and healthcare providers use mobiles in clinical settings to help reduce anxiety and promote a peaceful atmosphere for patients.