By on July 16th, 2020

 

TED Talk by Janet Eschelman, 9.5 minutes

 

Looking Up

I notice a strange kinship between the works of Janet Eschelman and Nancy Baker Cahill — trivial I expect each would rightly say but worth pondering say I. Both artists plan works against a background of sky. Not teapots on a tabletop, not twisted nudes on stools. Above is an impulse in both. How much art shares that?

 

 

Janet Eschelman’s netting installations attach to hold-fasts such as downtown office towers. They billow with wind and color and light. To showcase the effects of these things applied by fey nature rather than an artistic decision that says, It’s done is profound. The mysterious facts of local weather are a loud conceptual contrast to a closed contrivance. An invitation to come to life rather than a finished effect. Paint, bronze, extreme wedding cakes can’t attempt it.

 

 

Eschelman positions external lights with intention. Her nets are made of rope. Nothing inherently illuminating. Rope. The design of her nets includes a slackness that moves as feelingly as wind itself. This is an art of tension and abandon. There’s the ecological awareness alongside the grab-you aesthetic beauty. And the scale makes art you’ve never seen before. You are a small observer under it. There’s awe.

 

 

Baker-Cahill makes art that intervenes in the view you frame through your smart phone. The Augmented Reality piece she made for this recent July 4 takes a tangled batch of red-white-blue lines that form the suggestion of a Liberty Bell. If you look through your phone’s viewfinder at one end of Washington, DC’s reflecting pond you’ll see Baker Cahill’s bell huge above the water. The audio tolls solemnly as the bell seems to sway.

 

 

Baker Cahill’s graphic style — energetic bursts of lines, her focus on lines as opposed to blobs (mostly), her awareness of their aptness for expressing direction and speed. For expressing stream movement, a burbling over rocks. Or an explosion of colored remnants in the sky.

 

 

These lines are pixels not rope and by nature pixels are a form and source of light. There’s no outside photographer’s light, shining from the side. You can’t illuminate pixels.  You can only add their shine to the shine of an external light, usually a diluting and muddling idea.

 

 

 

I assume but don’t know that this Augmented Reality work would appear on your smart phone as lit pixels, becoming brighter as the sun went down. The tether to the reality it augments is that the bell tolls over sites of historical interest.

 

 

 

I don’t understand technically why the bell only appears at certain sites. “Augmented Reality” may dictate it. I ponder what privacy and sanity issues would ensue if rogue artists beamed unexpected content into the viewfinder (reality-finder) of your phone.

 

 

 

I recently read a quantum physicist scoffing at the youthfulness of Quantum Theory — more or less a century — and comparing it to topics that have intrigued scientists as far back as Archimedes.  The quantum man said there are things that don’t make sense in quantum mechanics and he wants for it make better sense. He’s in his forties. Maybe he will.

 

 

Keeping this physicist’s youngish-theory-attitude in mind I’ll make a last comparison between Eschelman and Baker Cahill. Eschelman has earned the accomplishments of a mature artist. She’s faced many daunting technical problems and come up a winner. As I said recently, the only other masterful rope artist I know of is Mrinalini Mukherjee. [I’m saddened to read that she died in 2015.]

 

 

Under duress, Eschelman took up native fishnets as a form and her art soared. She has changed “what is art?,” and gifted it with radical urban scope.

 

Augmented Reality is still under development, for Baker Cahill to step onto this unfirmed turf speaks to her brass and sass.  [I use these loaded words for a  reason: to normalize words like brass (nuts) and sass (a girly word). I consciously keep in the woman-centric metaphors that come to mind because my instinct is to hide them. Don’t sound weak. Goddam, let those housework metaphors roll out like jellyrolls.]

 

Baker Cahill is now standing in a spot similar to the beach where Eschelman began. Looking up. Early times for her hugely unexplored medium. But she has willing sponsors. And a medium most humans are infants at using. I hope for big things from her once she’s gifted with the scope to match her wingspan.

 

 

_________________________

 

 

 

• Boston Greenwy Project

•  From a 2012 blogpost of mine, Fluidity

• FYI: Ismar2020, online conference Nov 9 – 13, 2020.  IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) is the premier conference for Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). Lots of folks claim to be “premier” so check this out another way before buying in.



By on June 22nd, 2020

 

Michael Hansmeyer, Subdivided Cube 4, Computational Architecture 2009. (Note from blogger: watch the pores change.)

 

Michael Hansmeyer and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. weforum.org

 

Sounds like fusion in cuisine and music, yes? Aspects of globalism, compass points converging. The tendency in modern practice to both hyper-focus and intermingle like a red sweatshirt in a laundry of white. In hyperfocus a medical doctor becomes an internist becomes a cardiologist becomes an expert on heart arrhythmia. The push-back tendency is for artists to work fruitfully with doctors, doctors to probe brains with physicists, physicists and musicians to learn things together.

 

 

You may think that the parer-downers have difficult work and complexifiers have it easy. Throw in a bunch of newts, some old silver dollars and onion soup mix. Complexity! We need to understand that mindless complexifying can be done by a dog undigging bones in a nice lawn. Don’t even need a human. But brilliant complexifying takes imagination and rigor.

 

 

 

An installation by Martin Hansmeyer, courtesy the artist.

 

Michael Hansmeyer, Computational Architect, is among the elite who think about reasons to wantonly complexify rather than to simplify. This unique corps of thinkers buck the trend of paring off the dross to find something pristine and spit-shined inside.

 

 

He has taken a platonic solid (think sphere > cube > pyramid >…dodecahedron) and designed a way to create thousands of unique versions. (The Hansmeyer site says if you have 3d glasses the forms will come out to meet you.)

 

 

Hansmeyer’s goal in complexifying is toward the discovery of brand new and hitherto unknown forms. Often their geometry is more complex than humans have been able to conceive before computers. Hence the computational in his job description. In a TED talk the artist shows a diagonal fold in a sheet of paper. His Platonic Solids and the elaborating columns that followed grow and morph based on that one fold. Innies and outies pushed to a paroxysm of expression.

 

Platonic Solids by Michael Hansmeyer, courtesy the artist.

 

 

All of the forms shown are generated using the same single process, Only the variables that control the process’ division operation are allowed to change. This single process affects both the form’s topography and topology. It influences attributes such as the degree of branching, porosity, and fractalization – just to name a few. Hansmeyer, Platonic Solids.

 

 

Origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, has become a hot topic in mathematics and engineering. The father and son duo at MIT, Eric Demaine and his father Martin have famously pushed the study forward. “It’s very cool to make something that doesn’t exist,” says Martin.

 

 

Sound familiar?

 

 

 

The installation Murquanas by Michael Hansmeyer, courtesy the artist.

 

 

His fabrication information is well-sifted. You can learn plenty in a few short paragraphs.

Of Muquarnas (above): To articulate the the tiles of the original design, 15,000 individual hollow aluminum tubes were inserted into the tiers and glued into place. Specific tubes were custom fabricated in order to minimize their weight. Muqarnas, Fabrication

 

This is a mind that starts at computers and gets from algorithms to totally unique computer-controlled manufacturing. Abstract digits, touchable renditions. Imagination assisted by computers works out the practicalities of design. Plus people recognize the strangeness and bend their curiosity to understand.

 

 

Once the math has had its say the architect in Hansmeyer takes over to devise a visual form and make the airy math palpable. One thing I love about his work (I was a museum guard once) is that he invites viewers to touch. In one installation of columns each pillar was up-lighted in a small circle so that those who asked questions with their hands reached into a spotlighted space.  The human encounters with his strange work seem another layer in his strategy.

 

 

A delighted viewer. Photo by Kyungsub Shin of Michael Hansmeyer columns installation, courtesy Michsel Hansmey

 

 

 

 

He obviously experiments with materials and architectural problems like gravity and force flows.

 

 

And architects need a crew of experts — with forms that no one has created before, they need wised-up experience.

 

____

 

You say to brick, “What do you want, brick?” … Brick says to you, “I like an arch.”
If you say to the brick, “Arches are expensive, I can use a concrete lintel over an opening.
What do you think of that brick?” … Brick says, “I like an arch.”

The question today is: What would a grain of sand like to be?

         (Hansmeyer on beginning a new project that will be of cast sandstone.)

 

___________________________

 

 

Hansmeyer website
There’s a wealth of information in multiple formats, but sly little arrows reveal other whole troves. Like a clever mirror of complexity as a phenomenon, the volume keeps on expanding.

http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/projects

The variety of Hansmeyer’s endeavors can be found on his Projects page. You see his scope, from columns of evolving complexity to an encircling room of lace to a stageset for the Zauberflöte.

http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/profile

http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/news

 

•  Meaty quote about Eric and Martin Demaine, the MIT origamists:

[The Demaines]…built the piece by starting with a three-dimensional hexagon they folded from paper. They then inputted the shape into a computer and virtually erased all of the paper, so that only the creases remained. Next, they turned back to the tangible and created a dynamic piece of art, using aluminum rods, locked together at the joints with plastic spheres, to represent each crease.

“We took something real and virtualized it, and then made it real again,” says Martin.

Yes, we say.