James Capper



Powder coated steel, electric motor, control levers, concrete, cables
500 x 200 x 700cm.

Blurring the boundaries between art and engineering, James Capper’s practice explores the functions and aesthetics of industrial machinery. Each work (the concept of ‘the work’ extends beyond the finished piece to include both the planning process and the act of demonstrating it in action) is designed to interact with its environment in a specific way, co-opting the setting into the function of the sculpture. Many of his pieces are equipped with unique components, ‘teeth’ or talons, that tear the earth or otherwise alter the landscape around it – in effect, making his machines installations that create sculptures from their surroundings.

Capper is influenced by the Land art movement of 1970s America, when figures such as Robert Smithson employed the actions of machines to create sculpture from the natural landscape, casting aside the formalism, methods and materials of traditional art. He also derives inspiration from the works of inventor Robert Gilmore Le Tourneau, who conceived and created a number of earth-moving machines to resolve practical problems. Many of the technologies he pioneered are still in use today, and Capper draws on them in his work to explore how industrial materials might transcend their functional limitations.