Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Tag: sculpture

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abstraktAbstrakt: John Powers - God's Comic

John Powers: God's Comic, 2010
5 x 3 x 5 meters, Sculpture constructed from polystyrene blocks (site-specific unique installation)

The impenetrable geometries of John Powers’ abstract sculptures call to mind a wide range of influences, borrowing equally from art movements like postminimalism and pop culture icons like Star Wars. Meticulously constructed by hand, Power’s forms are constructed out of a limited formal vocabulary: Polystyrene blocks cut to a selection of preset sizes, attached to each other at 90 degree angles. The resulting structure gives the appearance of being a computer-aided design but is in reality the outcome of a human-executed algorithm, dictated by the artist’s intuition expressed through the repetitive action of connecting blocks.

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Eric Gjerde of Origami Tessellations recently Flickr'ed some wonderful images of Ron Resch, computer graphics pioneer, mathematician and origami innovator. His credits include patents for “self-supporting structural units” using tessellation techniques, as well as “geometric designs” (structures for spaceships) for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

Of the many pioneering projects Resch was involved in, the 1974 Vegreville Pysanka is one of the most spectacular. A pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter Egg, decorated with intricate patterns that are often geometrical in nature. Using computer graphics techniques that were then cutting edge, Resch designed and built a giant pysanka sculpture using tiling techniques to create both structural integrity and geometric visuals. The photo shown above top left shows the sculpture being dedicated by Queen Elisabeth II.

Known also under the moniker “World’s Largest Easter Egg”, the Vegreville Pysanka is a wonder of mathematics. It is also considered the first-ever physical structure to be constructed entirely based on computer-aided geometry. Resch built it using principles he had pioneered in paper-folding experiments, techniques he also intended to be used for constructing larger structures. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes are probably better known, but Resch’s ideas of folding structures open the door for more geometric wonders.

Be sure to read Eric Gjerde’s post about Ron Resch over on Origami Tessellations. Pictures from Ron Resch home page and Flickr.


Nicholas Rougeux: MengermaniaLevel 3 / Level 4 at 0.25%

Nicholas Rougeux likes Menger sponges. You know, the classic fractal shape created by Karl Menger, the one that gains an infinitely large surface area as it is iterated. The sponge has long been a favorite with computer graphics enthusiasts, but Rougeux does them one better. He builds Menger sponges as Origami sculptures using index cards.

Back in 2003 Rougeux built a level 3 sponge with over 66 thousand units (see image), taking over 7 months. This time he plans to build a level 4 version, a substantially more ambitious project that will entail 1.2 million units. So far he is at 0.29%, with 3774 units built. You can follow his progress and see more images over at Mengermania.

The Mengermania site also has a handy About section, giving more details about the sponge, as well as instructions about how to build one yourself. Definitely a way of impressing your friends. After all, the final result is very attractive.


This is a follow-up of sorts to the post about Norwich International Animation Festival. One of the few installation works at the festival was a wonderful kinetic sculpture, The Harrachov Exchange.

This sculpture came out of the work on the short film Harrachov, directed by Matt Hulse & Joost van Veen. The film combines live action, stop-frame animation and the mentioned sculpture to describe how an unnamed force assembles an obscene machine out of scrap parts. The film has almost sexual undertones, with implications of seduction and violation underpinning the process of assembly.

Designed and constructed by Guy Bishop, the resulting installation is like a reluctant mechanical jazz ensemble, producing tortured rhythms from thumps and squeaks. See for yourselves..

Video: Harrachov Exchange installation
(Matt Hulse, Guy Bishop and Joost van Veen)


Justin Marshall: Penrose Strapping 1 / Corby & Bailey: Cyclone.soc

A new exhibition in Lancaster, UK is highlighting creative uses of digital fabrication techniques. Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders features the work of artists, architects and designers using rapid-prototyping, generative design and other computational strategies for creating new types of objects. The exhibition is significant as practicioners working in this way tend to fall somewhere between art, design and research practices, and hence don’t always have a good venue for showing their projects.

Artist Justin Marshall has collaborated with a manufacturer of architectural ornamental plasterwork to produce a series called Coded Ornament. The series includes the installations Morse, with elements resembling dots and dashes, and Penrose Strapping 1, a plasterwork version of a classic tiling system. His use of decorative elements combined with digital pattern generation makes for beautiful, if unintentionally ironic, objects. More examples of his work combining traditional and digital practices can be seen on

The installation Cyclone.soc by Gavin Baily & Tom Corby presents the viewer with a new take on flamewar-ridden online discussion groups for politics and religion. By mapping texts taken from these forums onto the atmospheric topologies of extreme storms, the artists comment on the volatile nature of debate, while simultaneously highlighting the beautiful forms of cyclonic weather formations.

Lionel Theodore Dean (whose FutureFactories project was also featured in the Generator.x exhibition) is showing Holy Ghost, a baroquely ornamental chair design that is created by a generative model. Two “hard copies” of the chair have been produced for the exhibition using rapid prototyping.

Be sure to look at the exhibition web site for an overview of the other artists. Even better, see this excellent documentation on Flickr. Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders is a co-production between Fast-uk and Folly, for the festival of digital culture in Lancaster. It runs until the end of this week.


Thanks to Michelle Kasprzak for the link.

Tara Donovan: Untitled

Tara Donovan: Untitled

Tara Donovan: Haze

Tara Donovan: Haze

Tara Donovan creates her work from large amounts of everyday materials. Paper plates, drinking straws and plastic cups become organic forms through repetetive addition and transformation.

In her Untitled she uses Styrofoam Cups and hot glue to produce forms blobby enough to make the most avid Computer Graphics fan envious. Haze sees drinking straws (2 million of them) stacked up against the wall, a subtle topology created through offsetting the straws. The resulting work have a poetic fragility, and must be amazing to see up close.

From a press release for the Ace Gallery:

Donovan is known for her commitment to process, unusual material choices, ability to transform familiar objects or substances into challenging new forms, and sensitivity to architecture. Using large quantities of readily available consumables such as paper plates, pencils, straight pins, Scotch Tape, fishing line, or adding machine paper, she exploits their flexibility to make highly tactile works with a strong element of surprise.

References to Minimalism and architecture are inevitable. For more images, see the Ace Gallery.

Nicolas Schöffer: Minieffet light box

Schöffer: Minieffet light box

Much like generative art, kinetic and cybernetic art suffer from being broadly defined. As historical movements, they encompass Op Art artists like Vasarely, video artists like Nam June Paik and sculptors like Calder. As art forms they are steeped in the utopian ideas of the 60s, and so often considered to be passé manifestations of Modernist thought.

But the basic drive behind the work sounds familiar: To create images and sculptures that change and move, rather than remain static objects. Norbert Wiener’s theories about cybernetic systems and feedback loops also strongly influenced the kinetic art scene, resulting in reactive sculptures that must be considered early interactive art.

Nicolas Schöffer was one of the pioneers of kinetic art, a classic multi-artist like so many artists working in the 50s and 60s, trying his hand at painting, sculpture, architecture, film and even music, always with a consistent interest in dynamic form. He broke new ground with his sculpture CYSP 1 (1956). Equipped with photo-electric cells and a microphone, it is considered the first reactive sculpture, with light and sound conditions provoking changes in the sculpture’s structure. Schöffer also created psychelic light boxes like Minieffet, which was mass-produced in an edition of 5000 copies by Editions Denise René. Using lightbulbs, perforated masks and screens the box produces a range of animated optical effects. He was a classic multi-artist like so many artists working in the 50s and 60s, trying his hand at painting, sculpture, architecture, film and even music, always with a consistent interest in dynamic form.

Looking at a virtual museum of Schöffer’s work it is striking to see the links both to the Constructivists of the past and the abstract software work being created today. His “spatiodynamic” sculptures look just wonderful. For more information, read [Joseph Nechvatal's review of an exhibition of Schöffer's work] or this site at Leonardo Online, which attempts to present a fairly complete vision of his art. The latter site is mostly in French, but contains many images. There is also a page over on re-title about a "found exhibition" of Schöffer's work (curated by The Centre of Attention.)

(via Antoine on the eu-gene list)

Artbots 2005

Sabina Raaf: Grower

ArtBots 2005 just went down in Dublin, Ireland, happening in Europe for the first time after 3 years in New York. ArtBots is to robots what dog shows are to little cuddly terriers: A place to show off and strut their stuff. In actual fact, some of the participants aren’t robots in a traditional sense, but anything that moves and has a definite hardware component is welcome. And since the focus is on ‘bots that make art, creative machines only need apply.

This year featured a number of excellent bots, one example being Sabrina Raaf’s Grower. It measures CO2 levels in a space and marks it on the wall with a green marker. Higher CO2 levels are typically generated by more people in the space, and get marked higher on the wall. The result is that Grower indirectly measures people traffic over the duration of an exhibition, while making a graph that looks like grass growing.

Other participants include Watschendiskurs by Frank Fietzek and Uli Winters features a frog and a cat discussing language theory, occassionally ill-temperedly slapping the other to make him shut up. Outerspace by Markus Lerner and Andreas Stubbe looks like an inquisitive table lamp, eager to explore and interact with people. Curiously Strong by Jessica Banks and Amanda Parkes turns 250 Altoids mints boxes into a kinetic sculpture, with lids opening and closing to create a domino-like structure with its own soundscape.