More progress on the assembly. Starting to feel like this just might work!
Now that I’ve bent some tabs, the actual assembly can start. First steps are to figure out which part goes where; I’ve employed a letter-plus-number system cut right into the metal to try to simplify this process. Seems to be working OK, but ascertaining “front” and “back” on a form without them is somewhat problematic. It’s just a matter of playing “who’s your neighbor” and keeping track of those relationships. I divided the form up into 13 “modules” consisting of the sheetmetal surrounding each hole. Beyond planning, the actual assembly is aided by the use of these little doodads called “Clecos,” which are spring-loaded temporary rivets that hold things in position until actual rivets can be added. Pneumatic riveter for the win. (I “love” “using” “quotes,” apparently.)
Once the virtual model is finalized and I have all the surfaces flattened and laid out, the files are sent off to Wesco Laser to be cut from 14 (main body) and 7 (base) gauge 304 stainless steel. Now I get to try to turn this:
Into a piece of public art.
Oh, and remember those tabs I talked about? Here they are, ready to be bent and employed to hold the whole works together.
I have been utilizing the welding process in making my sculptures for 30 years. It is a straightforward, effective method for joining metal together—but there are some downsides. Biggest of these is the warping that occurs from the adding of heat; second is the aesthetic requirement of dressing the welds. Grinding and finishing out the weld beads and the associated discoloration around them (chasing) is time-consuming and, frankly, painful. I’ve experimented in the past with alternative methods of joining parts, like here:
I thought I’d try using rivets to assemble a larger piece, and “Interwoven” seemed like a great candidate, as warping and chasing out the welds on this beast would be bad. Very bad.
This did end up translating into many, many more hours of tedious design time on the computer—but that’s the price for ART!!! I placed over 2000 paired holes into the model and designed a simple tab to span the seam where two parts meet.
A note for the geeks: this shape was generated parametrically with code in the Grasshopper plug-in for Rhinoceros, and is based on the famous strip of Mr. Moebius. The chief challenge here is determining just how to go about realizing this mathematical form; there is no “front” or “back” and the the inner edge becomes the outer, and vice versa. Add to that the way the “faces” weave through each other, and you have a real head-scratcher on your hands/brain.
So, now that I’ve caught up on the Lincoln Corridor project, it’s time to move on to what’s currently occupying my time. “Interwoven” is a new sculpture commissioned by the City of Little Rock, Arkansas for the new expansion of their Vogel-Schwartz sculpture garden. Concept rendering below.
Had a chance to take some photos while the area was under the influence of smoke from forest fires throughout the west. Weird, lovely light.
It took a while for the stone parts of the bollards to get finished up, but once they were in I added on the stainless artwork. Lots of drilling and epoxy, but it was a gorgeous day for it.
A big thanks to everyone involved in this project. It was a real honor to have the opportunity to enhance my home base of Fort Collins, Colorado. I hope you’ve all enjoyed going along for the ride.
AAANND then there’s this goofus.
A couple nice b&w shots.
I took this photo the day I finished up the Lincoln Corridor project. Gorgeous late afternoon day in November. Love Colorado.
Now that I’ve gotten the actual hard work done on these, I’ll take some time to make a few posts outlining the process that brought them in to being.
This image of the galaxy Pictor A and it’s mind-blowing beam of X-rays wandered across my consciousness via social media.
The details of this thing are pretty incredible:
The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation across space. The Universe, however, produces phenomena that often surpass what science fiction can conjure.
The Pictor A galaxy is one such impressive object. This galaxy, located nearly 500 million light years from Earth, contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls towards the event horizon, the point of no return for infalling material. This energy produces an enormous beam, or jet, of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space.
To obtain images of this jet, scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at various times over 15 years. Chandra’s X-ray data (blue) have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red) in this new composite image.
By studying the details of the structure seen in both X-rays and radio waves, scientists seek to gain a deeper understanding of these huge collimated blasts.
The jet [to the right] in Pictor A is the one that is closest to us. It displays continuous X-ray emission over a distance of 300,000 light years. By comparison, the entire Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter. Because of its relative proximity and Chandra’s ability to make detailed X-ray images, scientists can look at detailed features in the jet and test ideas of how the X-ray emission is produced.
In addition to the prominent jet seen pointing to the right in the image, researchers report evidence for another jet pointing in the opposite direction, known as a “counterjet”. While tentative evidence for this counterjet had been previously reported, these new Chandra data confirm its existence. The relative faintness of the counterjet compared to the jet is likely due to the motion of the counterjet away from the line of sight to the Earth.
The complete description from the Chandra folks is here.
I was inspired:
An artist’s life is often a cascade of choices; making decisions about subject, medium, style, color – the list is basically endless. Each choice prunes the tree of possibilities and dramatically effects not just the final result, but also the process. Making a painting with hammer and chisel is pretty difficult.
The choice of sculpture as my chief focus came as a natural progression from my exposure to and background in construction and carpentry. From laborer to craftsman to artist. The tools of these trades impacted not only the output of each discipline, but the artist himself: my body paid the price for my choices in the form of tendon and joint damage. Pain is another highly effective filter, forcing me to put down some tools and pick up others – like the computer. Working digitally enabled me to continue exploring form without the pain, the frustration of lost dexterity. The medium of 3D software comes with its own constraints and demands, including the obvious level of remove from the physical interaction with the work, as well a the massive intellectual overhead of learning how the software functions. I’ve run through the litany of software I use on this blog before, so I won’t burden you with that again. Suffice it to say that the number and complexity of tools between me and what I want to make can be frustrating. If I have to watch one more half hour tutorial video just to get the effect I envision, I may explode.
I’ve once again taken the Oblique Strategy of returning to the beginning: my first exposure to creating on the computer was via vector drawing and Adobe Illustrator. In pursuit of simplicity and creativity through constraint, I’ve elected to see what I can make using just my iPhone and the App ecosystem thereon. A company called Pixite makes several interesting creative apps, including a simple but powerful vector drawing program, Assembly – far simpler than Illustrator, but that’s the whole point. An added bonus is portability and the freedom to sit or lie in any position while working – it’s a great way to relieve the stress of desk jockeying (not to mention standing around all day on cold concrete, melting frigid stainless steel together).
Here’s some of the things I’ve come up with:
Some earlier iterations:
More iOS artness.
More making on iPhone. Very tempted by iPad Pro.
Created on my iPhone with Assembly, Shift, and Percolator apps.
I’ve been exploring Modo and Zbrush and Keyshot and… tired of the massive layers of complexity that stand between me and actually MAKING. Return to the beginning.
I am of two minds. Split, like what the Native Americans called “Two-Spirits.” I am coming to terms with this aspect of myself on multiple fronts, including creatively. Each Winter, I am drawn inward, away from making objects of the real world, and toward objects and imagery that only exist in my mind. Perhaps due to the increasing darkness and isolation of the season. Take a peek: