Escaping Flatland 1-10 (1997-2003) by Edward Tufte is a series of 10 stainless-steel sculptures. Each piece is 12 feet high and weighs 4,200 pounds. In the series of 10, Escaping Flatland 1, 2, 3, and 4 have a triangular closed footprint; Escaping Flatland 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 have an open, linear footprint.
The 2 images below reflect the play of dappled light coming through the trees and reflected by the stainless steel surface. Dappled light occurs not because tree leaves have ellipitical holes but rather because the leaves combine to make tiny pinhole cameras that project the image of the sun's surface onto the steel. Thus every circle is an image of the sun; it is said that if there is a very large sunspot on the sun, then that spot will show up within each sun projected onto the surface. This effect is commonly seen during an eclipse of the sun, when dozens of images of the eclipsed sun are seen around trees. The dapples also sway and move about the projection surface as the wind moves the leaves.
The more general point is that if you put a good projection plane that intercepts some interesting light, you'll see some wonderful things.
Below, these 3 images show surface light coming off the stainless steel sculpture.The surface borrows light from the sky, grass, and trees to make these beautiful painted color fields.
Various edge effects, including edge fluting, are visible if you stare for a while at any color edge.The same effects can be seen looking out an airplane window at atmospheric strata, as the edge between strata shifts and glows.
The third image down would make a beautiful (although unchanging) color field painting. The vertical white line in that image is the narrow (2.5 inches) edge of a stainless steel plate.
Since the surface borrows the changing light, the stainless steel sculptures are always changing with the time of day, the clouds, the environment, and the location of the viewer relative to piece and the environmental light.
A variety of experiments were conducted at the beginning of the construction of the Escaping Flatland series to determine the grinding methods that would produce the best borrowed light.
What is the process that Edward Tufte developed to produce his creations?
ET answer on April 15, 2011: A rough-and-ready answer is that I pay little attention to process. I just go to a studio each day and try to make something intelligent and elegant.
There are coherent long-run plans ("Finish the book in the next 3 years." "Work on sculpture for the next few years, and also continue with the one-day courses and do pro-bono consulting." "Show art in New York City." "Find more open space land."), but otherwise I mostly find my way from day-to-day at the studios.
The staff, whose 5 senior members who have worked with me for a total of about 75 person-years, have developed their own management procedures which I tinker with rarely. Timing of events is mostly determined by the obvious: "Pay taxes on April 15," "Print enough books for a year-long reserve," "Do staff bonuses in late December." "Get ready for the museum show before it opens.").
In general I only want to hear about results, not process. I trust my long-time staff to behave effectively and honestly in their processes, so I limit my attention to results.
Managing a business and a production process seems largely common sense to me, and I don't see why high-level business executives should be paid their enormous salaries for doing the obvious.
> What is the process that Edward Tufte developed to produce his creations?
My observation has been that he gathers in some number of inspirational objects, makes
editorial selections informed by his studies and experience, selecting objects to carry his
themes and departures. Then, in an almost step function, a few get launched into large scale
production through a series of manipulations and then scale models. There is also an
essential continuity of it: all parts of this process are happening all the time. Everything
you see going in is evaporated away until a critical reduction remains and life springs
forth of its own accord.
His inspirations range from sticks to geopolitics, but are moderately influenced by math
and the local Connecticut steel history and his love for animals. His studies range from
statistics to art history and French. His experience is best summarized, currently, through
his page on Wikipedia. He also enlists colleagues to talk through some ideas. His colleagues
have included a backhoe operator, political scientists, an office manager, a welder, a
carpenter, a typographer, a forester, artists, columnists, a cartoonist. The list is quite
long and these people may have influenced more of his thinking that anything else, though it
would be rather resistant to any form of citation beside acknowledgements in his books.