Shift Happens: The Process

Tridodecaflexagon

When researching topological entities I came across the form known as a flexagon. A shape which folds into itself to show many different faces. This act of shape shifting is only achievable when it is physically folded by hand.

The example shown above is called the Tri-dodecaflexagon and has three known faces. The flexagon is made up of triangles, showing an example of Euclidean geometry with which many are familiar. I hope to present known geometries such as triangles and highlight ways in which these can be manipulated. They demonstrate how space can be presented and then reimagined.

The form itself has only been attempted in paper due to the folding mechanism needing to be continuous and the thickness of the form has to be taken into consideration so it can shape shift. I plan to deconstruct the form entirely and reconstruct using a combination of Perspex and wood, while experimenting with scale and developing a hinging system to allow flexibility.

I hope to achieve this by first dissecting the form using their nets and instructions. The nets are presented as two separate 2D shapes both made up of 18 right angled triangles (36 total). which are then broken down into a coding system of A, B and C. Each letter has 12 triangles and is labelled as such. This is used as a way to help guide the folder into finding each of the 3 faces of the tri-dodecaflexagon. The nets are glued back to back as such that the reverse of B10 will be C10 and that triangles A2 and C9 at this stage will not have a reverse. Once folded the reverse of A2 will be C9. Through this folding a twist occurs which means that the form has a similarity to the topological form of the mobius strip in that it only has one plane and what was considered the inside can be rolled and folded to become the outside.

I found the labelling of each triangle to be problematic, this approach highlighted education and guiding them through the making rather than the form existing as an entity. As shown above; colours, the alphabet and numbers are used. As I progress with the form I removed the alphabet completely and focused directly on colour to distinguish the triangles.

Each colour scheme was composed with my intuition and the limitations of coloured acrylics available to me. My aim from each is to entice the viewer to touch, which is then aided by a combination of matte Perspex which doesn’t show fingerprints as much as a mirrored acrylic.

I concluded on a colour scheme for my first attempt of the sculpture to be:

A= grey matte acrylic (3mm thick)

B= iridescent acrylic (3mm thick)

C= teal mirrored acrylic (3mm thick)

Although my choices of iridescent acrylic and mirrored acrylic contradict my concerns of fingerprints, I believe that materials that can manipulate light and reflections have an attractive quality. I hope to contrast these materials with the matte to see how they enhance each other while also encouraging a haptic approach. To further encourage this I have  increased the scale of the nets so that one triangle is approximately to scale with an adult hand. 

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