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Unseen Current in Chicago, Illinois by Ball-Nogues Studio
January 25th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Ball-Nogues Studio
How do we build something that modulates space and changes the circulation path of an existing architectural environment by using almost no material? What does it mean to fill space with volume that is on the threshold of absence?
Unseen Current was like a billow of fog flowing through Extension Gallery. Two thousand six hundred strings hanging under self-weight yielded an array totaling ten miles in length. The catenaries spanned between the walls of the gallery, each one in precise relation to its neighbors. We imagined a diaphanous wave rather than a solid object; when viewed from the front of the gallery, the installation suggested a shape; when navigating through its space, the effect was of falling snow viewed through the windshield of a moving car.
A challenge was to create a design methodology that tightly integrated concept, computation, and fabrication. Rather than drawing and measuring the length of each string, we sketched the installation in general terms; custom software then automatically generated the catenaries, computed their lengths, and prepared labels to locate each one. The design and logistics were “front loaded”, allowing a team of six people to assemble Unseen Current in just seven days.
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