studio day four: fall semester 2012
groups of three students used their hands to wrap a body at rest. using a thin, moldable material that is low in cost, recyclable, and not structurally sound without thought, they had requirements.
goal: a full cast of the body in a position. challenge: to figure out how to make the mold of thin layers durable, keep shape and form, stand up without any additional structure.
students were asked to figure out how the sheets should be applied, as direction of placement and layering of parts were both critical and unique to each body. they had to think about where to begin, how to angle the sheets to move along the compound and convex curves of the body.
each group had to figure out how to make their mold in sections so that the entire cast could be lifted off of the body without damage to the imprint. they also had to figure out how to keep all the loose sheets of foil together without fasteners, glue, staples, pins, or tape adhesives.
materials: foil, a floor and a willing person to model.
what concepts does this event introduce?
materials require structuring of some sort as they are delicate. a design problem is always a unique problem that is relative to the site, objects involved, conceptual intention and situation. design is a practice that involves a group dynamic and collaboration. construction requires strategic thought and planning. materials cannot be wasted. many enclosures we construct in this world are made by hand, according to documents a designer or architect prepares and the sequencing knowledge of the fabricator. raw materials are manufactured into products for use, and we as designers figure out how to use these materials to solve a full scale problem.
but most importantly it also introduces the aspect of body as time: as fragile, as a cage that is both soft yet stiff. the body is temporary and temporal.
we walk around in this big world and every small movement of our body can be distilled into a gesture.
the technology of the digital image tells us so, but we are so used to that. a photo of our bodies imprinted on paper in light or in mega-pixels does not always give us pause, or remind us of this relation to the beating, breathing world.
rarely do we think of the mass of our bodies in a place at a particular time. rarely do we experience our bodies outside of ourselves. rarely do we capture our imprint. we experience spaces through the movement of our bodies. as we live through our day, we leave traces of moments of life. we bend space. we move. displace space by our movements and leave clues.
"to live is to leave traces" - walter benjamin, reflections.
fragile shell enclosure
space inside the shell
to make this body casting project happen and not be a burden of cost, i suggested we use foil.
i looked closely at the work of Kader Attia, not to mimic, but to understand how these imprints could be constructed in short amount of time. i thought about it as an architectural problem and figured out the sequence. i practiced on my little daughter who told me about the warming properties of the foil as i wrapper her legs. then went to class. each team, with only a few clues from me, began their first construction project. this is architecture.