Exocubic Studio

Exocubic Studio

Out of the distant past: Through the Looking Glass

I participated in a public art competition last year for the City of Little Rock, Arkansas. My proposal, "Through the Looking Glass," was not chosen by the popular vote. Ted Schaal's cool piece "Open Window" was the winner. After all was said and done (and much celebratory libations consumed), the powers that be decided they liked "Through the Looking Glass" so much, they were going to raise the funds to buy it, too. So, in Little Rock, even losers can be winners. Here's my description of the piece from the proposal:

"The predominant visual theme of the sculpture has to do with perception and the play of light on polished surfaces. The main body of the piece is an elliptical shape, the interior of which is broken out, revealing that the whole is made up of individual hexagons. The hexagons are further defined by another layer of metal hexes attached to the faces of the main body. On one side these hexes are flat, in essence creating a mirror. The opposite side has hexagons which are rolled to make each one slightly convex - also creating a mirror, but one where the reflected subject is broken up into multiple images. I hope to orient the piece such that the viewer sees themselves and the City of Little Rock reflected as a single, unified whole from one side, and as multiple individual images with the greater world as backdrop from the opposite side. The unified image of viewer and City reinforces the concept of the collective and our roles as members of the community, while the unique, disjoint reflections speak to individuality and the need for each citizen to be a sound and fully realized individual to both be fulfilled and a functioning, useful member of society."

 
Render of "Through the Looking Glass"

Render of "Through the Looking Glass"

 
The boards for the competition.

The boards for the competition.

The fundraising took a bit longer than they anticipated, but I was able to get underway building this thing just a few weeks ago. FormZ, Rhino, Draftsight, and Solidworks all came into play while designing and detailing the sculpture - which actually was a source of several problems for me. Juggling data between different programs is a fact of life in a digital 3d modeling pipeline, and the intellectual overhead of keeping track of just what geometry came from where can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Add in the passage of time, and confusion is the inevitable result. I took quite a few extra hours to check and double-check my work, so was able to get at least a minimal sense of confidence that the design would actually be possible. There's nearly $10K just in stainless steel in this thing, so screw-ups can get costly fast.

 
Parts, parts, parts.

Parts, parts, parts.

 
Said parts, realworldified.  Shiny.

Said parts, realworldified.  Shiny.

 

Here's part one of the progress so far:

Tack welding.
Tack welding.

Here I'm tacking the inside edges onto one of the main faces. The yellow strap you see is for lifting the second main face into place.

 

 
Inside edges.
Inside edges.

More tack welding.

 

 
Overview.
Overview.

Birds eye view; you can see the bent edges sitting on the table lower right.

 

 
Structure.
Structure.

1/4 inch thick stainless steel plate bulkheads that add stiffness and hold the whole thing up.

 

 
Outside ege.
Outside ege.

Welding on the curved outer edge.

 

 
Welding almost done.
Welding almost done.

I've welded just about everything I can from this orientation.

 

 
Base frame.Base frame.
Base frame.

Welding the frame that will bolt the piece onto its footing.

 

 
Seam weld.
Seam weld.

Before...

 

 
Seam weld: gone.
Seam weld: gone.

After.

 

 
Grind.
Grind.

I hate grinding. I'm working on ideas to minimize the amount welding and grinding in my work.

 

 
Upright.
Upright.

Time to right the thing. Yes, it really is big - 12 feet wide and almost 9 feet tall.

 

Once I had the thing upright and all the welds cleaned up, it was time to begin adding he hexes.

Flat hexes.
Flat hexes.

All the holes were already cut by the water jet with the faces.

 

 
Reflections.
Reflections.

The raison d'etre for the whole thing.

 

 
Sky.
Sky.

Another cool feature is the way the reflections sometimes undermine the perception of solidity.

 

 
Popeye arms.
Popeye arms.

Installing all these Rivet Nuts is a real forearm workout. These gussets fill in the open corners on the convex hexes.

 

 
Convex hexes.
Convex hexes.

Really coming together now.

 

So that's where I'm at currently. Stay tuned.