Thu, Jun 6 2013 06:23
Well, once again it is time to put some new work out into the world. This month it is a pair of works who's design I have been refining for some time.
I will jump right in with the dimensions on each of these, they are 4.5" Diameter by 6" tall. A really good size in my opinion. They are just small enough to hold and inspect, but still big enough to have a very nice weight and presence to them.
Since my last project (the chess set) was a several month long project, I had an extended period of time to develop my concept for these works (as well as a few others still to come).
Given the extended development period, I decided it was about time I teach myself how to properly use a decent 3D rendering software. I figured while I was developing this piece, I could benefit from a new way of interacting with its geometry and hopefully learn a new skill along the way. This proved quite fruitful as I had a number of interesting break throughs and new ideas durring the learning process that helped me really perfect the design. It wasn't too difficult to learn and I think it will contribute in interesting ways in the future. (above: an isometric CAD projection on the left, and a transparent 3D render on the right that gives you a bit of an idea of what its inner geometry looks like).
Another thing I have been working on is designing and building a 3D printer. It seems they are everywhere in the news these days, and I had put together a small kit machine from Printrbot that I received as a birthday present over the NewYear. I had been enjoying experimenting with it to see how it might be useful in my work. Along the way, I decided to also build my own custom large format 3D pritner of my own design, and I have been working on it off and on over the last few months (you know, in my free time!). Currently I do not plan on using it to print actual works of art, as my experiments have shown that plastic just does not pass visual muster for me, but it will help me create test geometry and print custom soft tooling and work holding fixtures that will allow me to grip and manipulate my pieces without damaging the finish. Above you can see a rough print of an earlier revision of this piece (the finish on these isn't great, which is the main drawback of the current state of 3D printing)
So the 3D modeling and printing proved quite useful in helping me develop these two little gems. Although these sculptures consist of relatively few individual parts (Just 5 main big parts and 18 small rounded pins each) The complexity of the main shell parts is definitely unique to these pieces.
Here you can see the mounted part just after the final turning operation to the out shell parts.
The internal pieces have some very interesting geometry as well, Unfortunately it does not show very well in the images because it is difficult to photograph, but in person it is quit nice to inspect the inside spaces of the pieces. The above "partial assembly" image gives you another look at the internal components.
In addition to the diptych above, I also made this wonderful little piece. This one sort of falls into what is fast becoming a separate category of works. I have made many of these fist sized pieces that are removable from their stands now, and I do it to satisfy my desire to optimize the tactile experience people have while interacting with my work. When viewing my sculpture, many people politely ask me "is it ok to touch the work", and I really just love the look on their faces when I gingerly pick one of these small pieces off its stand and plop it into their hands to hold and inspect. The reply is alway something along the lines of "Its a lot heavier than I thought" Which I think speaks to how we have become so used to interacting with cheap, light weight, plastic objects. So much so that now, holding a solid metal object, somehow feels strangely alien to us.
Also I really just enjoy the compact, minimal nature of creating these compositions. The restraints inherent in designing something that is nice to hold is always a fun challenge.
The black, bronze, and blue seemed to work out nicely as well. This pice is 4.5" tall by 3" while on its stand.
As always, new sculpture is in the works, and comments are always welcome.
Chess by Bathgate
Fri, May 3 2013 07:34
It has been many months since the last time I completed a work or made a new post. This is all because I have been hard at work on a bit of a departure from my normal sculpture. I have been working on a project that has turned out to be one of the more complex and satisfying things I have ever had the luxury to attempt. It also just so happens to be a rather unique chess set.
I feel I should preface this post by saying that I very rarely if ever take on projects that produce works that have defined functions. I am approached fairly regularly by people that enjoy my work, who are curious if I am interested in making custom furniture or other functional objects for them that would have the same flavor as my sculptures.
This always flatters me, but I always decline. It is not that I don’t think some of the ideas would make for interesting projects, or that furniture or anything with function is somehow beneath me. It is simply because, as an artist, I am just much more interested in my own work, which involves exploring that blurry space where objects with no function begin to suggest that they might have one, without ever truly making that transformation. It is objects that defy categorization that most interest me, and I try to limit things that will distract me from that.
But the proposition of making a chess set, held a number of unique challenges and opportunities that I just could not resist.
For one, there is actually quite a long history of fine artists creating chess sets. Marcel Duchamp, Bauhaus, Calder, Damien Hirst, Yoko Ono and too many more to list, have all designed a chess set for one reason or another during their careers. So it would seem to me, that there must be some sort of universal appeal to this particular exercise for artist of all kinds.
Additionally, I personally have a short history of making two separate chess sets in my youth, which I had all but forgotten until this project surfaced. My first, I built when I was in middle school. I had stumbled across a large box of hardware and bolts in my basement. A find that I quickly and instinctively assembled into a crude chess set made of wing nuts and other fasteners. And then again years later, when in high school, I set about commissioning my classmates and artist friends to each create a unique set piece based on their particular art for a community board I was making.
I think chess provides a unique medium, because though each piece is symbolic of a function, it does not have a rigidly defined form, and so there is a lot of room to work with when designing, yet the frame work of the game provides an interesting context for the pieces one makes. So when a patron of mine asked me if I might consider designing a new set based solely off of the language of my current body of work, I jumped at the chance.
Little did I realize at the time what a monumental challenge it was going to be to make pieces that remained true to my aesthetic while performing their function in a playable chess set. During my research, I discovered that many fine art chess sets are purely conceptual works, they sacrifice their ability to be a playable set in order to make some sort of point or to subvert the purpose of a chess board entirely.
One thing my patron wanted, and indeed that I wanted as well, was that the set not only remain playable, but to do so exceedingly well.
This might well be a compromise to some artists, but I have always felt being subversive was sort of low hanging fruit, blowing things up and making them purely about you as an artist can often be the simple route. So for me in this case, maintaining playability represented a basic respect for ones medium and merely provided the constraints that I needed to work within. This is actually one of the core ideas I work with on a daily basis, I am endlessly fascinated how constraints themselves can be a powerful creative catalyst. So the constraints of a chess game seemed no different, so long as it did not inhibit what is most basic about my decision making process.
From the earliest sketches and conversations, on up through its lengthy construction phase, this project has taken well over a year to design and build. But in the end, I think I was able to thread the needle and make a set where each piece truly functions as its intended symbol in a playable chess set, while also being able to stand-alone and be recognizable as one of my sculptures and pare that with a chessboard that stands as a sculptural object in its own right.
So after this long process, I am happy to share the final images with you all. But now I am eager to start working on the many, purely sculptural ideas that have been piling up while I have been so busy working on this project. So keep an eye out, as I hope to have some works coming out in just a few short weeks.
Wed, Jan 16 2013 08:33
In this case I was able to make the pattern weave and intersect in such a way as to include a novel way of securing all of the inserted rods with mechanical fasteners. This is not always possible in all of my designs so it is a technical triumph to be able to do so.
Here is a simplified cut away to show how the hole pattern intersects with the center object laterally. As you can see there is very little room to work with. This drawing does not show the radial clearances however which were quit a bit closer than this even, but hard to display in a graphic.
This is my last new piece for a while, I am starting a rather unique and ambitious commission. The drawing above is a rather easy hint but I think I will leave the exact details until the project is completed. I suspect it will take me some time so It may be a little while before I post again, but it will be well worth the wait.
Wed, Dec 19 2012 11:43
Final post of the year to introduce my latest series of small works.
I have been sporadical making these small editions over the last few years. This set is my sixth and rather than making them all the exactly same as I usually do, I decided to go with different colors for each as a sort of color experiment.
As I have alluded to in earlier posts, I have been grappling with the introduction of more and more color into my work outside of the range that my base metals provide, and even with the limited pallet that I do use, I have struggled to wrap my head around how different colors effect the perception of different geometries. This series was an opportunity to try out multiple colors on the same shape so I could really get a good look at things to see where to go from here.
I think they all turned out wonderful, but I think it was a worth while experiment.
They each measure approximately 3" tall, by 5" long, by 2.5" wide.
As with many of my works this scale, they are removable from the base for that tactile experience. The weight on these is quite nice.
And finally a shot for scale.
Mon, Dec 10 2012 11:20
After a long summer of making some experimentally large and ambitious projects, I have been feeling like it is time to look back and reflect on what I have learned from those very time consuming and resource intensive pieces and make some smaller more subtle works.... at least for a little while anyway.
So in that spirit, here is my first attempt. I tried to keep the color more muted in this piece so I only let the colored parts soak in the die for a fraction of the time I usually do, the result is a color that is close to pastel (close, but not quite). I think it worked out well.
On the base the piece measures 3" in Diameter and is 11" tall.
As with all works around this size, I like to make them completely removable from their bases so that you can properly hold and appreciate the work from all angles. The two mounting pins have a slightly reduced taper to allow them to slip into the rods on the base.
One final shot of me holding it so you can get a feel for the scale. I am starting work on a new small edition of works next, I am hoping to complete them by the end of December so check back before the new year.