In Triangles

These images document a pair of algorithmic portraits materialized in plexiglass with a laser cutter. Each image consists of three layers: two in which the portrait is cut out of black sheets of plexi and one clear sheet, uncut save for the perimeter and screw holes, in between them. This layering adds rigidity and depth to each piece, which together form a diptych. My wife, Sachiko, and I are the subjects of this first iteration.

Sketch for a Physical Image

This is a sketch of an algorithmic portrait for digital fabrication. It’s based on a webcam mirror image that draws triangles of increasing size based on brightness. The Processing sketch and working Vectorworks file are also linked.

Preliminary Research

“We still do not know how much less ‘nothing’ can be. Has an ultimate zero point been arrived at with black paintings, white paintings, light beams, transparent film, silent concerts, invisible sculpture . . . ? It hardly seems likely.”
—Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler, Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology, 1999

“There are trends, or eras, in language invention that reflect the preoccupations of the surrounding culture, and so, in a way, the history of invented languages is a story about the way we think about language.”
—Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages, 2009

Digging around the history of language invention, one soon begins to see patterns emerge. A frustration with the limitations and inconsistencies of natural language coupled with an ambition and zeal to create something better usually results in a marvelous body of work that never generates a critical mass of users. From John Wilkins’s 1668 An Essay Toward a Real Character and a Philosophical Language through Charles Bliss’s 1949 Semantography, the effort to develop a logical, unifying system tends to run counter to the very nature of living language, with all its inconsistencies and adaptations. Learning from this rich history of utopian language projects, my own interest in a language of higher consciousness has been reoriented.

Light, Sound, Text has, from the beginning, been about the exploration of contemplative states in physical space. Architecture is a medium through which experience is constructed and I’m interested in the platform of language’s relationship to the built environment. How can language be—literally as well as metaphorically—encoded into a space? Moreover, is it possible to cultivate mindfulness and beauty within such a site? One node of this question leads me to back through the history of telecommunication and its electronic manifestation.

Samuel Morse, son of a geographer and pastor, was an accomplished painter from Massachusetts. In 1825, his wife fell ill when he was working on a commission in New York City. By the time the message reached him and he could return home to her, she had already died. Morse set to work on a system of rapid communication for long distances that resulted in the binary code still employed today. What interests me about Morse code, aside from its historical significance to telecommunications, is its suitability to the media of sound and light. There is an experiential aspect to these that can eclipse the message they convey. One’s ability to receive a message encoded in sound or light is contingent on an awareness of the patterns they produce. It’s this boundary between ambience and legibility that seems to have some potential for my project.

Dan Flavin’s work is an interesting precedent in the material realization of light in space. His use of industrial, fluorescent light tubes raise their cold utility to a level of the transcendent. To correlate patterns and signals through these, augmented with sound that fills the space is the current trajectory of my efforts. I’d like to gather people in such a space to lift their minds, and lose themselves in a contemplative/meditative act.

Kodak Ektagraphic III A Projector

A Kodak Ektagraphic slide projector was the subject of my first CAD drawing, done in Vectorworks. PDF and VWX files are also available to view.

In Praise of Airports

Liminal space
Site of passage
Flows of capital, flows of culture
Points interconnected by Descartes, drawing arcs over time
Machines conspiring to clear a way for us

Flight boards publish codes in discrete rows
Announcements reach just beyond the gates they are intended for
Languages overlap as nomads are born
Sunshine through glass curtains

Strangers, everyone, with stories of business or adventure
She’s attending meetings
They’re on their honeymoon
He’s visiting home
A funeral, a reunion, an opportunity, a whim

The politics of this economically perilous situation
To which cathedrals of movement are erected
Structuring invitations to passage through vaulted hallways
And metal detectors
Often awkward, occasionally inspiring

Each with its own shape
Corresponding to a landscape
Arrived at by car
Or train
Or bicycle?

Some want to go home, escape the interstitial space
Of this complex system

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