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This year, in constellation I worked on the largest and most challenging piece of writing I have ever face in my life. Though ultimately rewarding, and I am sure I will feel better about the project after some time from submission, I found the process extremely stressful at times. With the writing complete and the stress largely relived, I starting to reflect on the dissertation in relation to my subject practice and also in terms of my work ethic and the limitations in my approach to getting work done.
The subject of my dissertation was colonial and post colonialism and its relationship to the representation and perception of cultural artefacts. I define Artefacts as objects of craft, sculpture, design, pictorial or any other terms that are relevant to the subject. Upon reflection I realise the focus on the artefact and it all encompassing definition has roots in my subject philosophies of Artist: Designer Maker, where I feel, much like in my chosen definition of artefact, there is an openness to what it could mean. In maker for something to be in context it just needs to be ‘made’, though obviously there are other contextual referenced within the making. For my dissertation an artefact just needed to be a physical part of, or physical presentation of, culture.
Through a roundabout logic, that makes sense to be at least, I have started to consider a new approach to my current project in field based on an idea that I have explored in the dissertation. The idea in the dissertation was on hybridity in culture, the meeting of two or more cultures resulting in artefacts with multiple cultural contexts. A criticism of hybridity I found in my research was that, it was a contaminated or impure form of art because it lacked a specific cultural grounding. I was taking a similar approach to my subject work and it has been holding back my progress in getting around to making. I have been applying Mathematical, geometric principals to furniture, specifically the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci sequence.
The idea behind this is that I can take forms from technically drawn shape representation of these principals, and by reconfiguring and redesigning them I could make mathematically aesthetically pleasing furniture. However, I also want the furniture to be functionally usable at the same time. This combination, or hybridity, carries complications. There are scales and sequences that are absolutes in the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, but there are also ergonomic scales relating to the human body that must be applied to furniture for it to be at least somewhat comfortable, these scales are at odds with each other and prior to my change of thinking, brought about by the dissertation I could not see a solution.
Now however, from my argument in the dissertation that ‘purity’ of culture in art can only prevent the growth of ideas and the evolution of the art form. I see that I cannot progress with subject if I do not accept that one must give way, somewhat but not entirely, to the other for things to have any chance of progressing.
The solution, I have decided, for my subject project it to still base the form from the technical, and at that stage mathematically correct, drawings. But then apply ergonomic principals to the scale of the object, the Golden Ration may be lost somewhat in this but the origin is still there and I will make my best efforts to make sure there are visual signifiers that point to the golden ration. Once it have been rescaled I intend the implement the Fibonacci sequence, in layered building of the new scale. In this way I hope to achieve a complimentary balance between the two concepts.
There were plenty of short coming in my approach to writing a very long, 10,000 word essay. Mostly that I kept putting things off, until the last couple of weeks when the deadline was fast approaching, I got very little written.
Any work I did do, was small bits of reading and a lot of “thinking about it”. It wasn’t that this didn’t generate ideas, it’s more that I rarely wrote them down and did little to really expand them. I managed to convince myself that I had sufficient ideas to write about when I eventually got to it.
When I did eventually get to writing I found the small pieces of ideas didn’t look like they added up to much. I became very concerned about the word count. To try and combat the potential short fallings of the word count I started to over think the wording of writing I hadn’t really started yet.
Though I could have asked for help at any point in this, I had for some reason decided that I needed some developed work to take for analysis. I should have just taken what I had and talked through the vague ideas to flesh them out.
In all of this I ignored a lot of the research and development for one of my chapters. I had initially been very confident in my ability to handle the subject of my last chapter, after having talked at length about it with my dissertation tutor last year.
Because I was not keeping up with the research and discussion of it, I lost the ability to articulate certain ideas and some more technical terms I had been comfortable reading for proposal research became extremely challenging. It is this chapter more than far more than the others that I would have liked to have developed more along with the conclusion.
In this Project I aim to design and make functional, usable and aesthetically interesting bespoke furniture. Its form will be derived from geometry, specifically the golden section and the Fibonacci sequence, using the geometric patterns created when exploring the mathematical principals in shape and considering how they relate to the world in nature, design, architecture and art. By using these geometric shapes and scales I intend to create aesthetically pleasing objects that, due to the nature of the golden section, appeal to a large number of people.
The Furniture will be made using a combination of new and traditional processes, as well as a combination of wood, metal and glass materials. Some components, such as tempered glass will be bought in ready cut to size and require no process input on my part except assembly. Some will be produced through CAD and CAM, using CNC for most if not all wooden components. The metal parts will be made using, for the most part, more traditional cutting, welding and casting techniques; however some cast items may originally start as 3D prints to aid accuracy in size and fit.
Ideally the end result would be a range of furniture including a chair, two coffee tables, a dining table and two matching chairs, depending on material and time restrictions and design quality.
This project stated off very slowly, it had absolutely no real content for a long while when the only thing I knew I wanted to do was furniture made using new and traditional processes (including CNC), and wood and metal materials. It wasn’t until I was really pressed about concept during a tutorial that I decided to look into geometry, at the time this seemed to me a random decision made in the moment, however on reflection it was probably motivated by a piece of furniture I saw in a book during research over the summer. A lot of the work I found myself drawn to during the wood and metal/ CNC research was also quite geometric too.
Once I had decided to look into geometry I started with a book of computed generated symmetrical and infinitely repeatable patterns and based some sketches and designs on them but there still wasn’t much of a concept behind the work. In a book on geometry of design I found reference to the golden section and the Fibonacci sequence, which became the concept behind designs based on the shaped, ratios and patterns these create while also mimicking forms we are used to seeing in nature.
From this concept I have been able to make a few models demonstrating shapes and ideas I would like to explore in different types of furniture however most of these are still under developed. The delay in finding a more solid concept meant that I was not able to make an exhibition standard piece for the formative assessment and a lot more work refining the designs needs to be done before any can be made.
The golden ratio is found all throughout art, design and architecture but it can also be found in naure.
The Fibonacci sequence, 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89, is foung in flower petals. The number of petals the have is very often from the Fibonacci sequence, for example a lily has petals in threes, a butter cup has 5 and a daisy has 34. Phi also appears in flowers as each petal is placed at 0.618034 per turn (out of a 360° circle) allowing for the best possible exposure to sunlight.
The seeds in a flower head also follow the Fibonacci process spiraling out from the center. To fill the space phi is used to optomise filling.
During a tutorial I was challenged on what my concept was other than vaguely something to do with geometry and I realised that it realy didn’t have any substance and I needed to dig deeper into what geometry includes. During my research I found a book in the library about the geometry of design, in this was a break down of the golden ratio and its relation ship in shaped. The book had exampldes of golden ratio shapes which I found very interesting and I have begun recreating these in my sketch book to get a better understanding of the mathematics be hind geometry and the golden ratio.
To explore possible ways of incorperating metal into the furniture I experimented with inlaying pewter in wood. Again using a design made from the geometric patterns I laser engraved some grooves into wood, these were still much too small and were widened using a dremel. I then presses some wire into damp sand to pore puted into, the wire was too thin to get a good cast of with out alot of excess attached. I glued the pewter into the grooves and the excess will have to be sanded off later.