Friday, September 26, 2008

Shlian's Geo-inspiration

A few days ago while doing more research on geo-mimicry I came across the work of artist paper engineer Matt Shlian via the weblog Lynn Was Here. It was originally this image that caught my eye:
Desert, by Matt Shlian
In this work I see the juxtaposition of two different topographic systems which create a kind of surfacial moirĂ©. The first is the topography of the image, implied through the relative values of light and shadow printed on the page, the second is the physical topography of the page resulting from Shlian’s technique of origami. The overlap of these two systems create a more complex reading of geometry and surface than each would have individually, and is something that I think could be an interesting technique for advancing the ideas and mechanisms of geo-mimicry in design—the development of techniques for transforming the found geological condition but leaving its trace embedded in the artifact.

But as I tried to find this image on Shlian’s personal website I came across many other amazing images. The ones that follow all seem part of a similar investigation in geometric tessellations and topography. They remind me of the geometric explorations of Baroque polymaths-such as Guarini and Borromini-that lead to advances in architecture, sculpture, engineering, and yes, urbanism. It is this ability for such drawings to cross disciplinary boundaries that I find them so evocative—they could be the genesis for new buildings, new landscapes, and new cities. Their ambiguous nature is evident in Shlian’s names for the drawings as well—Implosion, Crazy City, Invisible Cities, Kasparov’s Nightmare, In Between, etc.

Shlian himself writes about the relationship between his work and an emergent urbanism. Much like a self-organized city, his work is focused on process rather than product. Here he discusses how he employs algorithmic procedures with unknown results:

My drawings begin by asking indirect questions which yield no concrete answers. As with my three dimensional work, my focus is on the process rather than final product. I am fascinated with computer technology and its ability to mistranslate information. Like a game of “telephone”, multiple software programs fracture and compound text and image as they travel through different formats on the computer. Bearing little resemblance to their origin, the new information is rendered on a pen plotter creating a chaotic world rooted in happenstance. No longer legible, I see the drawings as blueprints for invisible cities, answers to questions that may unfold over time.

All images below by Matt Shlian via his website.
In Between represents another potential technique for geographic urbanism--the creation of a middle ground that creates new relationship between the "natural" and "artificial".Kasparov's Nightmare

Everything, Everything

Morning Glory Lane

Exploded SpheresMurq

Seeing is Forgetting

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