Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Skinned polygones

Skinned Polygons
Collection of unfolded bodies, Twelve out of eighteen pieces
Paper, Steel needles, Collagen, Ink, Graphite drawing on Aquarelle paper

Originally my interest in spherical geometry came from Cartography, the study and practice of making representations of the Globe on a flat surface. Quite soon I was fascinated by spherical geometry that deals with polygons (especially triangles) on the sphere and explains how to find relations between the involved angles. This is of great importance for calculations in astronomy and earth-surface and orbital/space navigation.
The most familiar spherical polyhedron is the football (soccer ball), thought of as a spherical truncated icosahedron. Many of the cutting forms used for the work were found in contemporary ball design and went along with the collection Mappa Mundi that I was building up parallel to this work. Contrary to the unfolded balls- that were supposed to alienate in their unfolded stage- I wanted to give the skinned polygons some hint to their former spherical shape, a visual code so to speak. I especially liked the unfolded cutting form of a classical Mercator style globe were one can fit the parts together by aligning the continental shapes to each other. North and South Pole give a clear
sense of up and down and North America is to the left and East Asia to the right. I was searching for an equivalent image that would work in a more abstract but basically similar way.I found it in the simple image of text and its simple classifications of linearity. Linear writing systems are those in which the characters are composed of lines, such as the Latin alphabet.
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols, within our understanding of text it comes in the Latin alphabetic form. It is cultural as well as cognitive anchored and understood as a- left to right pattern and going from the top to the bottom of the page. The text images that I used were unique for each polyhedral design and based on a written text that I manipulated with a set of Photoshop filters to a point that they were unreadable but still recognized as an continuing text face.
I was building spatial paper models of the polygons and marked the direction of the text direction as if it would run around a balloon shape, spiraling from up to down. When these models were back in a flat unfolded shape the text image was of course aligned along the curves of its former spatial form. Through this visual presentation the observer gets a clue how the fragments are connected to each other. The text was applied to the material collagen by using mirrored ink jet prints in the stage when the material has been moisturized and can be imprinted. Through its special structure it will suck in the ink without that it would further spread into a fuzzy blur.
Likewise the skin is the bodies most outer boarder, the material of the skinned polygons is a fragile layer tissue called collagen.
Collagen is the main protein of connective tissue in animals and the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen is one of the long, fibrous structural proteins it is responsible for skin strength.
From the Greek for glue, kolla, the word collagen means, "glue producer" and refers to the early process of boiling the skin and sinews of animals to obtain glue. Egyptians already used the Collagen adhesive about 2000 BC, and Native Americans used it in bows about 1500 years ago.
The collagen that I used was medical collagen that derived from young beef.
I obtained a great amount of it during a job doing nightshifts in a pharmaceutical company that were making anti wrinkle masks. Like most artist I do get exited discovering transitory materials used in industrial processes, there is so much material that we never get to see. Collagen was right away a big brainstormer. The material comes in 1-3 mm A3 sheets and is white, foam like and odorless. Similar to wood it seems to have an internal pointed structure, meaning one direction that one can easily rip. Moisturized it becomes flexible and can be stretched.
The polyhedral cutting forms that I used, started as construction drawings on paper and remains as underlying image. (I always liked to keep the process visible.)The wet collagen was fixed with needles to the joints of the construction drawing, Within a several day long drying process the material started to shrink. This way all the straight lines turn into curves as the tension forces start to work within the construction.
I especially like this point of the creation. From here an uncontrollable random element takes over the mathematic and geometrical concept. It’s out of my hands and I enjoy becoming the exited and surprised observer.

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