The final assignment for this course was titled “Interstice Embodied”, which tasked us with defining the tangible nature of negative space, or the empty space that seems to surround the area around things that occupy real space. Within this subject, we were additionally tasked with exploring how individuals place relationships within this space, or how they’re existing relationship is demonstrated through interaction and what is implied within this negative space.
Thinking of an example of this sort of interaction was difficult, although I did know that I wanted a project that would explore the dependence we have on insecurities as well as the reliance on trust. I tried exploring this idea on paper in this train of thought the nature of sPACE-1bi00zy
The basic idea behind was this system of question-and-reveal mechanics that would first obstruct the visage of a person, but slowly reveal them with the removal of tabs for each question answered. However, I felt this didn’t necessarily communicate the idea of negative space, as the view of what’s really going on is restricted within a tunnel, the idea was not very good in terms of execution. It occurred to me that I wasn’t thinking specific enough, as this idea only focused on the general idea of establishing familiarity with someone, what I needed was something more specific. With that in mind I looked inward to my own experiences and found that this idea of establishing trust was displayed within my friendship with someone from high school who also goes to college in New York City.
With this in mind, I began to think of how I could represent this specific kind of friendship, that is, a friendship that was pretty strong in high school, but growing more distant after graduation. I wanted a design that would demonstrate the reliance that we still have on one another despite the distance while still incorporating our past. with these parameters in mind, I came up with the first design initial idea-1k3406k which was originally going to have the people facing the same way with a tightening mechanism. However I felt this design didn’t incorporate the increasing distance between us, so with some revisions I thought of something like this introductary idea-1le54eg
With this concept established I was able to piece together a contraption that could hold two people in that position, I decided to construct a harness of sorts.
the harness prototype
There was some mental banter over how I’d attach the two harnesses
(suggestions from professor)
eventually the design came to this:
more of the construction process:
The finished product:
I decided to use double looped chain to insinuate the idea of two experiences creating a single connection
this was the initial design
but I explored different configurations
I decided to call my project “Divide Your Infinites” because of the complexity of human awareness, as in the awareness of our immediate occupation within space as well as the contextualization of another individuals intent that we pick up on. This idea was largely brought to fruition from a statement made by Stephen Kern in “The Culture of Time and Space”, which was, “knowledge is essentially dialectual […] and [ideas] have a basic polemic nature” It was this idea that human knowledge, and therefore awareness of their surroundings, has this binary dialogue of whats negative space and positive space. a process that works like a radar, constantly evaluating the area. This then brought up the idea of the personal bubble, which I believed was the closest proximity in this radius of awareness. How is it that we get uncomfortable when things enter our radius but let people in at the same time? This led me to believe that they don’t really interfere with it, rather they meet at points that are agreeable to each individual’s personality, as I don’t think people are entirely compatible with another person, which is why they must “divide” themselves when relating to another person, as both infinite arrays of complexities could not entirely cooperate with the other.
The Polyhedra Remix assignment was split into two sections, or rather, into two phases.
For the first section of this assignment, we were tasked with creating wire frame polyhedron structures of varying sizes and vertices. Specifically we were instructed to construct a tetrahedron, a hexahedron, an octahedron, a dodecahedron, and an icosahedron out of a thick gauged, galvanized steel wire (I switched in between 14 gauge and 12 gauge). Since the assignment called for a minimum of 3 inches per edge, I decided to construct each polyhedron with a 4 inch edge.
tetrahedron (14 Gauge)
hexahedron (12 gauge)
octahedron (14 gauge)
dodecahedron (14 gauge)
icosahedron (14 gauge)
In terms of construction, the method of construction I used was rather simple, as I drew a measured template on paper that I would use as reference for the wire shapes.
I chose to use both 12 and 14 gauge steel wire because of the structural accuracy of the geometry. Essentially the gauge I decided to use depended on the complexity of the polyhedron.
For example, the icosahedron had the largest amount of individual wire shapes, making it difficult to construct out of the thicker 12 gauge. This caused for some polyhedrons to be less sturdy than others, as the ones constructed out of 14 gauge would bend out of shape a lot easier compared to the ones constructed out of 12 gauge.
This is one of the reasons why I chose the dodecahedron as the shape to focus on, as I wanted my final product to have a level of complexity that was greater than say a hexahedron or octahedron, but at the same time I wanted something that could hold up to the stellated and nested geometries of phase 2. Another reason why I picked the dodecahedron was because the assignment sheet briefly mentions that they represent spirituality or the Ether, which is an interesting concept, a shape representing something so metaphysical was personally attention grabbing.
With this being said, phase two of this assignment begins with the construction of a new dodecahedron, which tasked us with adding the stellated and nested geometry around the wire frame. At first, grasping a design for the additional geometry was difficult because I couldn’t exactly picture what could fit on or in the wire frame. I started to conceptualize ideas by tying string diagonally across the center of the frame, connecting two vertices opposite to one another. this helped me realized what I wanted to construct for the nested geometry. With that in mind, I liked the way the triangular aspect of the nested geometry looked with the outer pentagonal structure.
when it came to the stellated geometry, I wanted to create something interesting that would work alongside the nested geometry without interrupting it
I tried achieving this effect by having pyramids touch three vertices but avoid the other pyramid corners
this resulted in an oddly dynamic orientation of the pyramids, that additionally left the nested geometry open to the viewer
With the prototype finished, it was now up to me to finalize the concept with haptic materials, or materials that are structurally more sturdy. This excludes things like cardstock or cardboard, In sketches I came up with some materials I could potentially use.
After some thought, I decided on using chip board for the stellated geometry, and wood for the nested geometry. This is for both structural and ideological reasons, as chip board has the fold-able qualities of cardboard and both weight and sturdiness of 1/8″ thick plywood, which is also what I used as the wood option. However, there’s also this system of tiers when comparing the materials, wood being an entirely organic material that humans hack and form into structures, chipboard being an organic material that’s manufactured into its pressed form, and metal that’s a man-made product that’s dug up and melted into a solidified form. I was experimenting with the idea of using acrylic board to create an inner nested cube at the center to serve as another completely man-made object, but the idea never panned out. As the sketches show, I thought of several means to fasten the materials together and to the wire frame, these ideas were never set in stone, as I cycled through different ones during the construction of the final polyhedron.
The construction was definitely the most difficult part of this assignment, as the process was prone to set-backs that I had not foreseen. For example, I thought I had a decent grasp on how to use rivets, but when it came time to the actual practice of fastening the hinges together, the video really speaks for itself.
I later learned that I was in fact inserting the wrong part of the rivet. The wooden inner triangles would prove to be difficult again when it came to the angle of the edge that would attach to the wire frame. As when I measured it, I was under the impression that it said 80 degrees. I believed this all the way to the point of post cut and drill, only to find out that when attached the edge the went inward was not a straight 90 degrees. Having learned this, I returned to the wood shop and sanded each triangle down to 70 degrees, which was resolved the issue.
The issue that came up the most was the ineffectiveness of the fastening methods I had planned to use. For example, the use of rivets was originally intended to keep the stellated pyramids together with a tab, but the rivets weren’t long enough to keep them together. Instead, I used the screws that came with the hinges and fastened the hinges with rivets. I originally intended for the nested triangles to be fastened with safety pins, but these proved to be ineffective, so I used string instead. Surprisingly, the aspect that gave me the least amount of problems was the chain component, which I anticipated to be the most problematic.
In the end, the final product looked like this:
Upon finishing the final polyhedron, here’s a list of what I learned.
wires wound around a greater area will have a tighter hold
organizing the wire shapes into an array then attaching them upright is quicker than attaching them one by one individually.
chip board does not need to be cut with an oolfa knife, in fact it’s recommended to use a saw instead.
when using a band saw, or any saw for that matter, cutting just to the right (or left) of the mark made will result in a much more accurate cut
It’s better to have imperfections outside of the mark rather than inside, as sanding them down will still result in an accurate form.
In order to attach things with rivets, the flange must be inserted first.
In order to insert a 1/8″ thick rivet into wood, the hole drilled must be slightly larger (I chose 9/32″)
When attaching paper together as if you were sewing it, the holes made on each piece must be slightly offset in order for the wire or string to easily weave through the material
when attaching wire or a chain with a hook, if the wire/chain is not taught enough, the hook can be rolled back to the point where it becomes taught.
cut excess hook material and close it so the chain cannot get loose
when bending wire, bend just outside of the mark, this will allow for bending it to the correct angle while also preserving the correct length of each edge.
be open to adaptations to the original design, as components within the original design can prove to work differently than what was initially imagined.
In summary, I think this assignment builds onto the ideas seen in week 4 and 5, that is the concept of a mental frame dictated by artificial wire outlines, only this time it adds the idea of intentionally placing materials within this frame instead of leaving the negative space on its own. This addition of rigid materials purposefully obstructs the space encompassed by the wire frame, dividing the space into the vision the creator wants the viewer to see, rather than the creator presenting a window for the viewer to impose themselves into. This idea is explored within “The Culture of Time and Space” when Stephen Kern references the completion of the Eiffel Tower, “the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889 announced a new era of construction with steel girders. Traditional distinctions between inside and outside were useless to describe this open structure. Visitors who descended the spiral staircase were outside but at the same time ‘within’...” this idea of this newer grey area of being in between inside and outside is further expanded upon when Kern mentions Frank Lloyd Wright’s “prairie style” as his way of establishing a living environment, “he identified his motif as ‘the inside becoming outside’.“. This strikes me as relevant because this is what I was trying to do with my final polyhedron, as it’s not closed off, looking through it at a certain angle will allow you to see the other side, however at the same time much of the space inside it is obstructed. In addition to something ideological, practically speaking this assignment also serves as a lesson in general construction, as it establishes that rigid materials need a foundation before being fixed into the position the constructor wants. Another interesting aspect is the metaphysical aspect of the dodecahedron and a section of this text that describes the way Einstein redefined the idea of what is physical. according to him ,”every bit of matter in the universe generates a gravitational force that accelerates all material bodies in it’s field and modifies its apparent size. There are thus no absolutely rigid bodies“. The idea that all physical things are inherently atoms that fluctuate is incredibly interesting to me, because this almost takes on the nature of something metaphysical, or rather a pervasive force that permeates through matter. stretching this tangent, what does this do for a space that has no matter occupying it? Is there still a gravitational shift between the walls of a large warehouse that’s supporting it’s roof above it, as it’s suspending something in space against gravity? The materials that compose the rigid materials come from different places, wood is completely organic, metal wire is completely man made, the only difference between them is their sub atomic arrangement, as they were both harvested. I wonder if this is metaphysical in any way, the concept of rigidity all coming from one place.
I’ll begin this synthesis by discussing the first assignment, called Take Something Apart. Within this assignment we were tasked with finding an object that we would deconstruct without damaging the inner components. This served as an introduction to the composition of everyday objects and the design that goes into them. the object I chose was a metal fan that I found on 15th street,
However, had I paid attention to what we were going to do ahead of this assignment, I wouldn’t have picked an object this large, as I observed that many of my classmates picked smaller, more intricate, electronic objects. Which would be easier to transport as they’re not so cumbersome. additionally, I imagine they’re deconstruction went smoother as the components are contained compactly within its shell. Besides that, the fan was an interesting object because it’s parts were largely mechanical instead of electronic, as there were no circuit boards or chips. I feel this provides a different learning experience, because during the process of taking it apart, I gradually began to understand the kinetic forces at work should the fan turn on, as it relied largely on the movement of the gear component hidden in the back casing. After fully taking the fan apart, I read this passage within my text The Culture of Time and Space that stated, “We entirely shun the vague word of ‘space’, of which, we must honestly acknowledge, we cannot form the slightest conception and we replace it with ‘motion relative to a practically rigid body of reference“, now I recognize the train of thought this provoked was a stretch, but it really made me consider the importance of compensation for these moving parts. As the inner components, such as the gears and motor axle, power fan blades that have a radius nearly twice as large as the casing they’re in. Now the motor itself took up a large portion of that interior space, so its not the fact that it can rotate the blades that strikes me as intriguing, rather the sort of “dwarfing” effect the smooth, dome-like, casing has on the perception of the viewer. Or, in relation to the text, the point of reference the viewer has in terms of the physical space the fan occupies, and what it encases.
I did experience difficulties when I arranged the objects to be photographed, as the fan guards and blade array took up a lot of space when placed in a frame. In order to capture the photos I had to stand on a stool in order to get all the objects in frame.
After the first assignment, we moved onto the Orthographic Projection assignment during week 2, serving as an introduction to technical drawing. For me, this assignment shifted the focus from objects being considered as components in a larger object to being their own individual objects. This is because the organised layout of technical drawing and specifics in regards to the objects called for more attention to detail. Which is different from the previous assignment, as the measurements that were put into the material index were mostly approximate, or rather more of a “box” around the object. This shift in focus distanced my perception of the objects from considering them as partitions of a larger space to the equivalent of detaching them and placing them within their own magnified place of occupancy.
It was around assignment 3 that the things started to become more conceptual than objective. After this shift in focus as a result of the second project, I feel as a class we became very familiar with the objects we chose. studying and measuring them caused for an increased awareness of their dimensions, meaning the object’s real appearance was fully realized within the mind’s eye. When we switched objects with somebody else, it brought a new stimulus into an assignment that was already shedding the formalities of measuring an object. Conceptually it deconstructed the formality two times over, with a method of rendering that did not utilize rulers or squares and being completely unfamiliar with the object given to us. As I cited in a previous post, from The Culture of Time and Space “natural scientists began to investigate the relation between the structure of living organisms and their spatialorientation“,I believe blind contour drawings demonstrate a form of spatial orientation. This is because its purely a product of perception, as no corrections can be made to the drawing in the process of rendering what the viewer is observing. Personally I found drawing faces in blind contour interesting because of how its still recognizable as a face despite it not being anatomically correct at all. The human brain does this often, as people see faces in the front of cars or in trees, whatever slightly resembles a face. Most of the time I couldn’t tell what an object was in another persons drawing but I could tell when a face was meant to be there, that’s just something I found interesting.
It’s at this point that I see a similarity between this process of rendering images in a new frame of thought and The Culture of Time and Space, as it describes the transitional period of thought in the 1880s to 1918. They went through a similar process of deconstruction of what would’ve been considered formalities at the time, like for example, questioning euclidean geometry, which gave rise to theoretical mathematics as well as theoretical physics. I’m not saying the deconstruction of objectivity in regards to our objects have led to ground breaking breakthroughs, but the lines between object, representation, and entirely new object are blurred. This becomes more evident within the next assignment, that is the fourth assignment that required us to make three dimensional interpretations of assignment three using wire. This is where the concept of a “new object” is introduced, as these wire frames are an interpretation of an interpretation. They hardly resemble the object that was originally drawn, so in my opinion, they classify as an object separate to the original three dimensional object. Which is interesting because it’s essentially a game of telephone, but with renderings. Meaning, we took something three dimensional, interpreted it with purely subjective forces at work on the two dimensional plane, then brought the stimulus back to the three dimensional plane. One thing I found particularly interesting was how simplified the hand wire forms got with the lesser amount of wire, the 5 foot wire hand is my personal favorite as it still gets the idea across but it isn’t so full of bends and information that it is the most simple out of all the wire frames I created, additionally it wasn’t several feet long like the 15 foot wire hand. This was something I had a problem with, as I found myself wishing I had created something more dense and smaller than expansive.
Lastly, we have assignment 5, which required us to create a mobile that relied heavily on balance to display the final stages of these renderings. As I said in the portfolio post specifically describing this assignment, “Since they’re suspended and not rooted to the ground by gravity, the position they intentionally fall into displays the invisible but essential relationship between objects that are reliant on balance and weight distribution“, I was also quoted saying, “This is interesting because these wires do exactly that, they’re artificial forms that “outline” an object that existed in a position at a certain time, serving as a three dimensional “freeze frame” that copies the said object. It however is not a carbon copy, as the hand is not a real hand hanging from a mobile, instead it is a form that implies the idea of a hand.” in response to The Culture of Time and Space when Stephen Kern stated, “ […] and argued that the division of matter into independent bodies with absolutely determined outlines is ‘artificial“, because the whole purpose behind assignment 4 and 5 was to create this sort of artificial but real outline of something the mind put together in reaction to a stimulus. Except assignment 5 put the objects in perspective, as suspending them directly in front of a person immediately puts the objects in relation to whatever is behind them, acting as almost a window encapsulating a space within its frame, this effect is briefly mentioned in The Culture of Time and Space when Kern says, “Edmund Husserl challenged the Cartesian idea that perception takes place in the mind and argued instead that it is a relation between a perceiver and a thing perceived “, I think this perceiver to perceived relationship is prominently demonstrated in assignment. I think out of all 5 assignments, this one was the most the most difficult in terms of execution. As I hadn’t checked ahead to see that we were going to attempt something so reliant on equal weight distribution, so there were many work arounds that I had to do on the spot, this caused for a very different object in reference to the schematic I originally planned out, as I didn’t factor in the actual weight of the wire suspending the pieces up, as well as the obnoxiously large hand. It does however hang and remain doing so, that is the most I can ask for.
Overall, and in retrospect, I see the past 5 weeks as an introduction to conceptual thinking in terms of objects that occupy the reality we live in, as prior to this, I felt my understanding of space and reality was pretty concrete, as well as black and white. That is, true intepretation (it looks exactly like the object) and untrue interpretation (it doesn’t look like the object at all). I think the common theme within these assignments was a gradual deconstruction of objective, formal, and realistic thinking into a concept, or something that inhabits the subjective part of the brain, an reinterpreting it back into the realm of objectively existing, that is, seeing it “pop” off the two dimensional plane. I think because of this, a lot of modern sculpture that I didn’t really understand makes more sense to me now, because its probable that these professional artists undergo similar processes.
This assignment serves as an add-on for the one before it, project 4. As it adds onto the concept of reinterpreting a two dimensional stimulus into the three dimensional plane and factors in the concept of a shared weight between these objects. Since they’re suspended and not rooted to the ground by gravity, the position they intentionally fall into displays the invisible but essential relationship between objects that are reliant on balance and weight distribution. However still they seem to be, the preservation of balance between two correlating objects means they’re always in motion. which is interesting because the idea of a perfect resting state, where they are not moving at all, would imply that all objects depending on one another are compensated to the point of extreme precision, which would be incredibly difficult to achieve, if achievable at all. Motion implies energy, the alignment of balance relies on the motion of gravity, as said in The Culture of Time and Space, “If there is no clear distinction between the plenum of matter and the void of space and if matter may be conceived as a configuration of energy alignments, then the traditional understanding of matter as made up of discrete bits with sharply defined surfaces must also be rejected […] and argued that the division of matter into independent bodies with absolutely determined outlines is ‘artificial”. This is interesting because these wires do exactly that, they’re artificial forms that “outline” an object that existed in a position at a certain time, serving as a three dimensional “freeze frame” that copies the said object. It however is not a carbon copy, as the hand is not a real hand hanging from a mobile, instead it is a form that implies the idea of a hand. As Scott McCloud once stated, the simpler something is the easier it is for the human brain to make an assumption regarding it, so something that is literally a wire frame of something is recognizable to the human brain. Now the addition of positioning the mobile above a person changes the effect the wire frames had beforehand, as instead of a person actively looking down at a surface to see this wire frame lying on table, it is now hung in front of them, immediately taking up space in the viewer’s psyche. It now engages with the viewer instead of the viewer taking the effort to take it in.
Within this project, we essentially visualized the concepts explored in project 3, only this time manifesting them into physical versions. Which is interesting because it originally worked as taking something that is purely three dimensional and representing it on a two dimensional plane, now its taking stimulus from the two dimensions and reinterpreting it into three dimensions. Now the original object and representation can be immediately compared as they inhabit the same plane. the effect of empty space is interesting, as these are just wires bent into shapes. However, once they’re closed off, the space “contained” within its frame creates a form of reference that works as a symbol for the human psyche. This same effect was once achieved with the construction of the skyscraper, as described in The Culture of Time and Space, ” liberated from the need to construct solid supporting walls, architects could use sheets of glass to open interiors and scenery of the outside world.” Now this project didn’t open up a view of the city to people living in the interior, however this relates to the assignment because the way architects achieved this effect. That is, building what they call bare skeletal structures that supported itself to the point where it didn’t need a solid wall to keep it standing, and therefore could have walls with spacious views. Here we can see that the usage of a frame, wire or steel girdle, displays an intentional window into a selected span of space.
Within my chosen text, there is a line that states, “natural scientists began to investigate the relation between the structure of living organisms and their spatial orientation“. I believe this relates to this assignment because of the word “spatial orientation”, as it sounds like the organization of something, or rather how that organization is interpreted and presented. When somebody see’s an object, for an instance (or for however long the individual is in front of the object), they can verify its shape and form because its immediately within view, any incorrect assumptions are corrected in reference to the real object. However when that object is no longer there, the individual is left with an outline of where and what it was, allowing for the mind’s eye to warp and change the perception of the object, depending on how intently the individual observed it. Now this assignment twists this principal in an interesting way, as all the information on the paper is purely visual information in reference to the object being drawn, it largely excludes subjective or conscious influence as corrections cannot be made to the drawing. More often than not the drawing looks incorrect in comparison to the real object, however the individual who created the drawing can still identify the drawing as the object. This spatial orientation of lines in combination with the psyche allows for the individual to pair a loose scrawling of lines on paper with a real object occupying the three dimensional plane and call them the same, which I think is what the passage was getting to.
Orthographic Projections of components from the metal fan
within this project, I learned the specific layout and language of technical drawing, as orthographic drawings serve as a multi viewed document that details the dimensions of an object. With a document like this, a manufacturer would have an idea what a certain product would look like, not so much being able to construct it as it does not supply instructions to do so, but more of a “ideal outcome”. In my opinion, creating multi-viewed technical drawings functions as the “first step” into any sort of manufacturing or constructing profession, as it serves as an introduction to how their systems work. This idea of manufacturing and the language that comes with it relates heavily with the text I chose, as it discusses the period of awareness between 1880 and 1918. This awareness being the gradual but also exponential growth of the Industrial Revolution and the sophistication of technology it brought with it. I’m sure the prowess with technical drawing was fundamental during that time as technology, and therefore the means to put it together, was constantly evolving. I just find it interesting how the means of designing such technologies with technical drawing styles (such as Orthographic) have remained in tact for the most part, as people design and communicate with them to this day. However, at the same time, you can view Da Vinci’s notebooks and have a fairly good idea of how the mechanisms were supposed to work.
Long screwdriver, normal screwdriver, and needle nosed plyers
Arranging the parts
In total, this assignment has demonstrated to me the level of complexity that goes into manufacturing and assembling a product. Something as simple as a desk fan houses small mechanisms and design choices that have been described to me, but have never physically seen, let alone deconstruct them. The motor of the mechanism was the most interesting part, as the axle that rotated the fan blades operated with what appears to be some sort of magnetic set up with a copper coil housing. I never would’ve expected something like that from a simple desk fan, it makes me wonder about all the complexities I’ve missed in the objects I’ve used or seen thrown out. As all these objects occupy space, with an intentional design constructed by a designer of some sort. Within Stephen Kern’s work titled The Culture of Time and Space Kern quotes Einstein’s statement from 1916, “We entirely shun the vague word of ‘space’, of which, we must honestly acknowledge, we cannot form the slightest conception and we replace it with ‘motion relative to a practically rigid body of reference”. Essentially, I think this means when you try to determine what space is, you can really only consider it in relation to an object or “reference”. Which is an interesting thought, as the complexity of space is something the designer of this fan had to consider. The housing around the fan’s revolving mechanism is dome-like, but when opened up was incredibly spacious in terms of interior components. It makes me wonder, at what point does a design choice become too much of an obstruction to the space around the object, and when is there not enough space for the interior?