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Close-up of finished pressed page. Laser cut text pressed within 5 layers of bio-paper to form one large single sheet.

my new show opening November 11th at Minnesota Center for Book Arts

Close-up of finished pressed page. Laser cut text pressed within 5 layers of bio-paper to form one large single sheet.

Close-up of finished pressed page. Laser cut text pressed within 5 layers of bio-paper to form one large single sheet.

My new work, Specimens, is one of three pieces on show at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts as part of the 2016 Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship. The opening for the exhibition is on November 11th, starting at 6 PM.

The pages will be displayed in sandwiched plexiglass frames, to allow light to pass through and permit the audience to see them floating in space – very much the way the paper looks and feels when handled.

Here’s my artist statement from the exhibition:

Specimens is the first of its kind: a book created with a new bio-paper medium made entirely from bacterial cellulose. Its pages were once alive.

The quality of this new paper, which I developed over the past seven years, is its unparalleled strength and transparency. Each sheet is grown in a vat and harvested after several weeks. After processing, many layers – five or more – are laid on top of one another with the text block carefully placed within. Then the entire stack is pressed. The act of pressing these sheets is what gives them their strength.

Trapped forever within the thin lamina of Specimens’ pages is the poetry of e.e. cummings. The challenge of retaining the poet’s complex typographic wordplay required a new approach for placing text. Drawing upon my fascination with Voronoi tessellations – the natural pattern of cell structures in all living things – I created custom software to generate a Voronoi framework that would hold the text in place. The text block was then laser-cut from Korean hanji.

 

You may also be interested to watch my 15 minute presentation from earlier this year, talking about my plans for the project and some of the science behind it. Some of the plans changed- many things were tried and discarded, as working with this medium at scale presented some new challenges. Overall I am very pleased with the results and look forward to sharing more photos of the installed work in the next week or two!

origami-building-block

Making any shape using origami corrugations

A fantastic tidbit that popped up in my facebook feed today:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-to-make-almost-any-shape-out-of-a-flat-sheet-of-paper

Mahadevan and his team have characterized a fundamental origami fold, or tessellation, that could be used as a building block to create almost any three-dimensional shape, as seen above (credit: Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS)

Mahadevan and his team have characterized a fundamental origami fold, or tessellation, that could be used as a building block to create almost any three-dimensional shape, as seen above (credit: Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS)

This comes partially from Tomohiro Tachi, an origami friend, and one of the top people worldwide working with computational/mathematical origami tessellations and corrugations.

If you look further at his Flickr page you can find beautiful examples of 3D constructs and controlled folding mechanisms. It’s very exciting work!

bauhaus_hypar

Bauhaus Paperfolding Workshop in Asheville NC March 8th!

 

 

I’m fascinated with the paper folding exercises that were used by Josef Albers in the Bauhaus School, and then later on at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. These folding exercises helped students to learn about the properties of materials, and were one of the fundamental tools that Albers used to guide his students to think differently. One of his guiding principles was “learning by doing”, or “Werklehre” in German. This was also the organizing principle of the Black Mountain College, so it’s not surprising that he came to BMC after he fled Nazi Germany (along with so many of the Bauhaus instructors!)

To that end, I’m giving a short workshop on Bauhaus paperfolding and a talk on origami this Tuesday, March 8th starting at 4PM at the Asheville Bookworks in Asheville, NC, in conjunction with the Book and Print Arts Collective of Western North Carolina. If you are interested in attending, please register via email by March 6th.

The talk on origami will begin around 5:30PM, so if you wish to just attend the talk, that’s fine too – you’ll just miss out on all the fun folding beforehand.

Items to bring:

  • a bone folder for making strong creases
  • a snack and a drink to share after the workshop, which is your contribution to the event

You need to register for the event to attend, so please do so if you wish to come! it should be a lot of fun, and we’ll have some great origami show-and-tell exhibits to share.

 

work sketch

Work on display at American Craft Council

A new article about some pieces I have on display at the American Craft Council. The show also features two large works from my wife Ioana Stoian – including our favorite joint effort, Unison.

Here’s a snippet from the included Q&A in the article, which I highly recommend checking out:

Who and what inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from shapes and patterns I see every day – both in nature and in the manmade world. After working with tessellations for so many years, I see them intrinsically in anything that repeats – they always catch my eye, and I am drawn to them. This often manifests itself later on in a piece, sometimes rather unknowingly. I was heavily influenced by the work of the Dadaists and Surrealists, as a teenager; I grew up in a military family, and I spent one particularly isolated summer after a cross-country relocation cooped up in my room with a stack of great art books on that period in history. I had not known such a thing existed, artistically, and it made a great impression on me. In the last few years, I find myself turning to paper art pioneers like Josef Albers, Jean-Claude Correia, and Ron Resch for motivation to push past self-imposed boundaries.

 

4 separate layers of text, 5 layers of paper. all compressed into a single sheet

Artist Roundtable Talk February 16th

Hello All,

I’m part of an artist roundtable talk this coming February 16th at 6PM at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, one of three panelists discussing our Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship projects for 2016.

My project is an innovative exploration of my beloved bio-paper – paper grown in-situ from bacterial cellulose – using this amazing and unusual paper to create a limited edition of books featuring the poetry of e.e. cummings. Using the unique properties of the translucent paper, I will be embedding the text at varying depths within the paper itself, resulting in quasi-three dimensional wordplay; which makes the work of e.e. cummings perhaps the ideal source text to use.

More on this to come, but in the meantime, please enjoy these photos of work samples I created for the talk next week, and a short video clip of a fresh sheet of this paper after harvesting. The work samples are based on the concept I am exploring for my project; laminations of thin sheets of biofilm with embedded text objects between the layers, all made of pure bacterial cellulose to ensure maximum bonding and integration. This means: one single sheet of paper with multiple levels of content within one page!

The finished work will be precisely laser-cut and won’t look anything like this hand-cut sample, quickly done to show the process. It may or may not survive the evening of the talk after it gets handled a fair amount. Let’s hope it does as I’ve already had a request to acquire this piece!

If you’re in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and wish to hear more about the process, please have a look at the event details above, and I hope to see you there.

 

 

Updated – October 31st, 2016: Added recording of my artist talk.