The trampoline is more known as an implement for play, exercise and circus shows. The Inuit developed a game that’s akin to a modern day trampoline, where they toss one another into the air using walrus skin. In 1887, a trampoline-like life net was invented. This was used by firemen to catch people jumping from buildings during fires. Americans George Nissen and Larry Grisworld, both members of the gymnastics team of the University of Iowa created the first modern trampoline in 1936. The name came from trampolin, a Spanish term that means “diving board.” When it came commercially available, the trampoline was used for different applications. It was used in astronaut and flight training. Trampolining became a competitive sport. The bouncing apparatus was used for cross training purposes in such sports as freestyle skiing, gymnastics and diving. Today, it has also found its way in many homes. Homeowners invest in the best trampoline brand for recreational activities and to keep children entertained.
As a tool for art shows, there are two well documented instances where trampolines were used.
In the 2012 edition of the Archstoyanie Festival, a Russian art exhibition, a 170-foot long (51.8 metres) trampoline was installed in the middle of a forest in Nikola-Lenivets in Russia. This became the longest trampoline in the world. Its length is equivalent to 13 double decker buses. It is made of reinforced rubber and looks like a grey gravel pathway. The location is now an art park and the art installation, the very long trampoline, is its star attraction, as it was not removed after the exhibition. It is still a hit today as it was since the festival opened. The bouncing runway has entertained festival visitors, as they were able to bounce along the path that was given the name Fast Track.
It was created by the designers of Salto, an architectural firm from Estonia. Russian and foreign architects and designers were given the opportunity to experiment in various forms of visual arts. Fast Track provides a different kind of experience to visitors who walk/bounce along the track. They can pause and look around and enjoy the sights, and bounce to have another perspective of the surrounding landscape. They can play and laugh like children. As Salto said after they have installed Fast Track, they wanted to create interactive and intelligent spaces that will correspond emotionally to the local context (of the place).
Matthew Barney is an American artist of international renown, popular for his richly visual and provocative performances, videos and sculptures. He started Drawing Restraint in 1987, which is a long term project. In this artistic production, Barney proposes that there is parallelism between athletic training and art making. He believes that through resistance, form develops. It includes photographs, drawing, video works and sculpture. In Drawing Restraint 1-6, which was created from 1987-1989, he showed simple studio experiments. Using trampolines installed at an angle, he was shown attempting to mark (put designs) on his walls and ceiling while bouncing.
Although used mainly for sports training and recreational purposes, a trampoline can also be used for art shows. After all, an artist has the skills and creative licence to use anything as a possible art medium.
Also read: Art As It’s Known Today