Tuesday, April 6, 2010

reading response five | digital fabrications: architectural and material techniques | jd pirtle

Again, artists, designers and architects incorporating digital techniques with no qualms about the efficacy of doing so. This text provided an interesting and cohesive insight into the advantages of parallel design processes (computer-aided design and fabrication). Projects such as Digital Weave, Mafoombey and (Ply)wood Delaminations show the potential for repetition and recursion combined with cheap and readily-available materials. This is not a new aesthetic, as is mentioned in the text and evident from the work of luminaries like Le Corbusier, but access to digital processes and computer-aided tools has created a fairly democratic (within the very developed world) playing field for artists and designers. This type of work is the very opposite of abstract art, it is concrete art. Particles are formed, repeated, translated and scaled to form clouds that reflect the individual parts, but are greater than their gross sum.

Science already has a legacy of vocabulary to discuss these types of formations, but how can we grasp this aesthetic properly in the world of art? The forms are often beautiful in a way that successful figurative art has been for 1000 years—an accurate sculpture of a figure is pleasing to the eye and mind for its mimicry of shapes with which we are well accustomed (e.g. Michelangelo’s David). Similarly, the Programmed Wall, for example, reflects sinusoidal patterns found in nature, constructed with the same accuracy and consistency as natural formations, and therefore it is pleasing to the eye and mind. These forms and patterns are embedded in our development as a species—we have known them forever and have looked at them, either consciously or unconsciously as a species for all time.

What interests me most about this type of work is what is beautiful about these structures beyond the presence of accuracy and repetition—what is next for this type of work? Architects are naturally thinking of the aesthetic married to structural benefits, but what of artists? What do these forms reflect from the deeps of our minds? Why is geometric repetition in nature beautiful?

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