Monday, 30 April 2012

Inflatable INF15

Not the best weather for installing yesterday, but having finally completed my new breathing inflatable INF15 for the exhibition Flora and Fauna at Burghley Sculpture Garden, time was pressing.

The piece cyclically inflates and deflates, and it is intriguing that in the deflate cycle the bulbous ends collaps in on themselves along the main seam to resemble shells. An interesting thing about the work in situ, is the drama that unfolds when the wind gets up, as each of the tendrils attempts to gain ascendancy over the others. A dynamic ballet cum struggle between the seemingly animate forms occurs. The sculpture is a bit of a departure when compared to the outdoor inflatables made to date, which have tended to be singular forms, whereas this piece is more divergent and plural. Something to be furthered; probably with the piece I’m thinking about for a forthcoming show at Chelsea Physic Garden in London during the summer. Below is the statement I have written about this piece for the exhibition catalogue.


The sculpture’s geometry and movement is partially defined by the elements, in particular the wind. Itself the result of differing air pressures due to the earth’s movement and the thermal consequences of the sun’s energy. INF15’s otherworldly qualities are driven by these cosmic occurrences, whereas its underlying form is indicative of grow and growths; with buds of unknown origin or outcome seemingly coming to fruition. A struggle mirrored by the protrusions kinetic fighting.

Bridging the Gaps 2

Continuing the development of the ‘rough and ready models’ has resulted in several forms covered in plaster that has been applied liberally and with deliberately roughness. Two of the underlying forms were created with the use of the newly patented ‘spade’ deformer, whereas the more linear of the pieces was created from several hoola-hoops cut up and rejoined. It will be interesting to see how the 3D scanner reads these forms as there are a lot of gaps and overhangs in the foam squirts and particularly in the linear plaster study, where the outer hessian was roughly applied, meaning lots of layers with transparent structure.  

Next Stage

  1. To scan some of the studies and get them in CAD for further manipulation.
 2. Create the layered forms in Ply wood possibly using a water jet cutter with an eye on the possibility of the cutting and absorption of water leading to distortion of the forms through expansion etc.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Bridging the Gaps 1

Dirty Digital: A Bridging the Gap experiment


I have kindly been invited by sculptor and reader in Fine Art at Loughborough University,
John Atkin to participate in the Bridging the Gap project; a research endeavour that seeks to unite the expertise and creative ideas of a diverse range of disciplines at the university.

The Interdisciplinary Design Team (IDT), that includes staff from fine art, design and technology, manufacturing engineering, chemistry, material science and other departments are trying to address how strategies may be designed to bridge the gaps between accepted norms of research culture. In so doing, they seek to address how research in one specialist research department can have a sustained impact on a separate department? And amongst other questions, how can this feed the grassroots culture of learning & teaching and foster a synthesised approach to the Arts & Sciences?

The research is funded by the EPSRC to support people-based activities centred on novel approaches to cross-disciplinary interaction and collaboration.


The aim of my Dirty Digital project is to explore the sculptural interface between the digital and analogue, and to ascertain the consequences of repeatedly passing geometry from one realm to another. This will naturally entail a multi-disciplinary approach uniting areas including ceramics, fine art, animation, design and technology, manufacturing engineering and if viable, chemistry and material science.

A secondary aim is to undermine the tendency of virtually generated form to be slick and what might be described as ‘perfect’: in other words, to get some digital dirt under the fingernails.

Stage One – A starting point

To make a series of almost anti-sculptures with ‘undefined’ geometry, or at least, geometry that in its production has not been subject to excessive control, subject instead to the whims of chance and happenstance. The intent is to apply the sculptural equivalent of the lead guitarist’s distortion pedal; with a good starting point being the unctuous joys of expanding foam. 

Splodge art to digital

Produced in a series of ‘squirts’, each form has been built up sequentially, playing with and distorting the viscous foam as its skin sets, at which point it can be manipulated into geometry that moves in 3D space. The latter being a possibility not open when first squirted onto the ground. Pouring water from a height and hand slapping being further means of distorting the setting foam. 


Splurge function not available in Maya

Next Stage

1: Studies splattered in wax or plaster, with casual surface definition.

2. Studies composed from layers of plywood (itself made up of strata – thus visually linked to layered RP production).

The intent in both cases is to create form and surface that would be unlikely to emerge if modelled in CAD software. Digital 3D scanning will allow these rough forms to emerge in the virtual world, where deformers and manipulators can be applied before outputting through rapid-prototyping.

For more information on the activites of the Bridging the Gap team see: