10 DEGREES

In January, my research on reconfigurable prismatic architected materials (published in Nature) was translated into the interactive art exhibition 10 DEGREES in Cambridge, US.

Each of the four large sculptures in the exhibition has a lever that viewers can move, spurring the massive, hundred-pound shapes into motion; the number of levers indicate the number of changes in the sculptures’ movements. The slightest exertion can cause the shapes to seamlessly fold into arrangements with a delicacy unexpected for a metal structure of such magnitude.

The viewers are able to fluidly transform an object that is bigger, larger than theirselves. The geometric structures reveal their organic qualities once the levers are moved. The generated motion is so dynamic and fluent that it is almost like music. The viewers’ active engagement with the structures make the artistic pieces come alive. The play-element of the exhibition – which allows learning by doing – is something that I also embrace in my research. All the cardboard models that are on show are made by me personally by hand.

Play, practice and craftsmanship is an “enduring, basic human impulse” according to Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens) and Richard Sennett (The Craftsman), respectively. I strongly believe in the need to stay involved in physically making things as a way to keep ourselves rooted in material reality, providing a steadying balance in a world that relies heavily on and maybe even overrates isolated mental facility. The origami-inspired research that I do, is founded on this conviction. Play and build!

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