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Bouquet sculpture series--and Walking, Seeing, Constructing

Here's a recent stainless steel piece, about 4 feet tall, that looks just fine from all sides and thus resides deeply in 3-space,
not in flatland of paper and computer screen and also not in frontal-flatland of representative sculpture.
The images below go around the piece, showing some of the scenes generated by the sculpture.

This was the first day that the piece was in sunlight and there was more to see in borrowed sunlight,
more intense light, more painted color fields than in the light of the welding shop.

As usual, there's an enormous difference between the quality of the visual experience of the actual piece experienced quickly by the eye
compared to photographs viewed even under careful slow study.

Often the limits of photography are in its modest range of light intensity compared to what the eye sees.
For Bouquet for the year 2006, however, the photographic narrowing is in the range of subtle color distinctions.
There are many goings-on in reality-color compared to photographic color, which, I suppose, we already knew.
90% of experiencing landscape sculpture is just showing up.

The piece works with the 3-D play of the planes and the air volumes created by that interplay along with the art-deco edges.
The planes create an interplay of air volumes in the negative space and also serve as local (internal to the piece) projection planes
for reflected light and shadows from nearby elements. Hard to see in photographs;
however, maybe some of the air-volume information can become visible and active in movies.

-- Edward Tufte

Bouquet for year 2006, new sculpture

In sculpture technique a subtle and difficult issue is how to catch and display the sometimes beautiful, different, active shadows and reflected light generated by landscape sculpture.

Projection planes external to the piece, such as the ground or nearby walls, can reveal sculpture-generated shadows and light. For example, a Calder mobile at the Hirshhorn Museum, lit from above, produces moving elliptical shadows on a white ground. A great virtue of this Calder piece is that it acts on the museum environment. I have projected shadows from a wiry geometric sculpture onto a big flat piece of rusting steel, which yielded beautiful deep dark shadow lines. But the big steel plate appeared incoherent, having little to do with the sculpture itself.

How then can a sculpture contain its own internal projection planes to show shadows, bounce light around, and reflect bounced light? A good internal sculptural plane should be coherent, integral to the piece itself, indeed the piece itself.

Pictures 3 and 5 show the activities of internal projection planes which are also full elements in the piece itself. (In picture 4, middle lower, that is a stainless steel edge, not a shadow.)

In sculpture work, reflections and shadows are often after the fact. In constructing a piece, I seek to understand the volume and edge relationships among the elements, the intersection and joinery of elements, the overall narrative and visual coherence of the piece, the activation of negative space in the air around the piece, interactions with possible contexts, and, because of the necessities of gravity and the strength of materials, mechanical-structural issues. But shadows, reflected light, and reflected light painted on another element all come for free when the piece is outdoors and the sun is shining. In designing a sculpture, it is hard to reason systematically about something that has so many faces, moving around as the sun moves through the sky and as the observer shifts position relative to the sculpture. But, if the piece is any good, then the shadows, light-bouncing, and light-painting will take care of themselves.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to Bouquet for year 2006, new sculpture

Here are shadows, reflected light, and light bouncing around in David Smith's Cubi XII (1963) at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.
Two details are shown, then the entire piece.

Students of sculptural pedestals will note the newly added concrete base to Smith's piece;
for the previous, better base, see my photograph in Beautiful Evidence, p. 195.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to Bouquet for year 2006, new sculpture

Below, in Bouquet, some good edge-play in the light cast onto the element at left. Note the Necker Illusion in the vertical fold, which reads as both folded-in and folded-out in relation to the viewer.

Multiple edges cast light to the left of the vertical; those edges themselves appear folded, this way and that way, depending up the reading convention applied by the viewer to the image.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to Bouquet for year 2006, new sculpture

-- Edward Tufte

Immediately above is a little experiment in mapping images with detailed text. The idea is to pair an image without annotation followed by the same image annotated. Let the viewer explore, then point the viewer to particular elements in the image.

Could a book be written in this format? Words that discuss the overall image would be in the usual format of text--sentences and paragraphs--but words that discuss local detail would be placed right on the image itself. This would finesse the problem of finding the detail and would illustrate directly what a close look at the image can reveal.

Perhaps the sequence of the unannotated image preceding the annotated image accommodates both unguided exploration followed by guided analysis. This is similar to the usual teaching technique: show something and ask "what do you see," then encourage a closer look ("use the little gray cells" as Agatha Chritie's Hercule Peroit probably said), finally followed by showing what a close (annotated) look can in fact reveal.

-- Edward Tufte

We're going to make another Bouquet for the year 2006--identical in all respects except the surface grinding will be done with a single-action grinder (David Smith style, see examples above in his Cubi XII) instead of our usual double-action grinder (which yields our standard soft neutral-variation surface).Bouquet for 2007?

Then perhaps a change in scale, or in thickness of metal, or a test of some powder-coat color (maybe not the color, since it masks the wonderful light play of stainless steel). Or straight edges rather than the current Art Deco edge fluting. Or perforated metal, as in the Birds series. Bouquet in fact derives from a Bird fragment.

And so on, perhaps a tour through a multivariate space of various sculptural decisions or a tour through various 3D visual effects. In this new year resolution list, I imagine a sculpture walk down a curving trail through a series of experiments (have to take into account sunny v. cloudy days, however). This may require a visit to my old textbooks on multifactorial research designs, in still another new year resolution.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to Bouquet for year 2006, new sculpture--and Walking, Seeing, Constructing

Here's a larger Bouquet, about 10 feet, or 3 meters tall. It is constructed from 1/4 inch or .64 cm thick stainless steel. In the image immediately below, Larkin's Twig can be seen on the land down hill from this ridgeline on "level 2" of the sculpture field where the new piece now briefly rests.

This new Bouquet will probably wind up on a nearby peninsula in a stream flowing through a gorge; in this temporary installation shown in the 2 images below, we're experimenting with the various effects of location, light, and mounting base.

This is number 6 in the Bouqet series.

-- Edward Tufte

Threads relevant to sculpture:
Ace and Porta do multimedia
Bird Series
Aluminum and stainless steel; many, many pieces moving in the air.
Buddha with Bird Nest: sculpture
Complex sculptural shapes
Dear Leader I: landscape sculpture May 2006
Narrative piece about some mysterious porcelain objects in a stainless steel perspective box.
Dog sculpture (Porta the Portuguese Water Dog)
ET Modern
ET museum/gallery in the Chelsea Art District in New York 2010-2013.
ET show at George Champion Modern Shop
ET gallery show in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Escaping Flatland sculptures
Ten large stainless steel pieces in the landscape generate many views and painted color fields as the sun moves across the sky and the season changes.
Feynman Diagrams, Edward Tufte sculptures and exhibits
The Conceptual and Cognitive Art of Feynman Diagrams. Art show + 16 page essay.
Flame Theater
Georgia O'Keeffe and Escaping Flatland
Hogpen Hill #1: sculpture installed August 2006
First major piece (24 feet light, stainless steel) installed in new 122 acre sculpture park underway in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Ironstone artworks, torqued steel
Magritte's Smile
Masks Quartet, 2011
bronze casting
Megaliths, Continuous and Silent, Stuctures of Unknown Significance
Stone+air artworks. Scuplture, megaliths
Millstone sculpture series
Massive industrial pieces sorting out circles and light. Redesigning and repurposing scrap from nuclear power plant.
Multiplicity in visual experiences (ET presentation for a museum show)
Nine reviews of ET's Aldrich Museum sculpture show
ET museum show in Connecticut 2009-2010

Paradox sculptures
Petals 1-3
Aluminum hyperbolic paraboloids in the landscape reflect light and shadow. The pieces move with the contour of the land.
Philosophical Diamond Signs
Philosophical alerts, imperatives, and thoughts about the path past and future.
Rocket Science
~32 feet (10 m) high and ~72 feet (22 m) long, and is constructed from ~48,000 pounds (22,000 kg) of rusting scrap steel
Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander)
Rocket Science 3: Airstream Interplanetary Explorer
Sculpture Forgings
Steel forging mounted on wood base. Blacksmithing video.
Sculpture: Negative space studies
Three table pieces; strong positive elements create active negative volumes (the air) to torque. Movies.
Seeing Around: New ET essay published
Skewed Machine
Spring Arcs, an ET landscape sculpture
Four solid stainless steel arcs in the landscape. Long thread, many photographs on meaning, construction, viewing of the piece.
Stainless steel images: anisotropic calligraphy
Big series of engraved 3D anisomorphic images that move with light.
Steel sculptures
Rough, thick, rusting steel, with surface images in the steel's patina.
Table sculptures
About a dozen major table pieces in wood, steel, stainless steel.
The Drawing Center fax show: ET exhibits
The Twigs: Landscape artworks made from steel and air
The beautiful Twig. Steel, 32 feet high, with accompanying thread on reading the piece and the complexities of modeling large 3D objects.
Theater Museum artworks
Tong Bird of Paradise
Towers: a new memorial for 9/11
Visual complexities of light, shadow, perpsective. Perforated stainless steel.
ZZ Smile (Zerlina's Smile)

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