Flapping Wings Perched on Your Finger

by An Xiao on March 9, 2012

A still representation of a ring from Dukno Yoon's Suspended Wings series.

A still representation of a ring from Dukno Yoon's Suspended Wings series. (all images via

LOS ANGELES — Most of us want to fly. And while we’ve generally figured out that human beings best fly through a gliding mechanism, Leonardo Da Vinci famously tried to mimic the way so many other animals fly but he never did get off the ground.

A post on Colossal tipped me off to the work of artist Dukno Yoon, a Korean jeweler and metalsmith. Yoon’s been making a number of small moving pieces that simulate the flight of birds when placed in your hand. His Suspended Wings series shows the movements translated into simple rings, allowing a quick flicking gesture to trigger the piece’s movement.

An animated ring in action.

An animated ring in action.

The works are mesmerizing to watch, and they reveal a detailed study at flight mechanics in concert with our hand movements. The website is also a lovely example of how to use animated GIFs to demonstrate how a piece can move and shift. As the movements are so simple, it would have been a lot clunkier to try to watch them on YouTube.

In her review for the exhibition catalogue, Susan R. Ewing noted, “As these miniature wings are provoked by their host to flap, to move as if seeking release from their confinement, we smile, and then laugh from their whimsy.”

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