Shift Happens: The Process

Curation Decisions

Installation began on Tuesday 23rd April 2019. A variety of issues arose during this time including sculpture breakages, space problems and decisions on including a floor mat.

As the sculpture was kept and transported in three separate sections before the installation I had not completely assembled the sculpture beforehand. This also meant I had not yet worked on composition, something I had planned to do when curating.

It was once fully assembled and when attempting to position the sculpture that I began to encounter problems. I had not taken into account the cog size in relation to the increased frame width, and due to the tight turning and bulky nature of the triangles, the axles keeping the cogs together snapped. Once one of the axles along the row had broken the sculpture couldn’t turn properly and resulted in another two breaking. I did deliberate replacing the broken axles, but it is clear that the sculpture does not work with all eighteen linked.

Seeing this as an opportunity, I decided to split the work into two sets of nine triangles. As an individual am I able to comfortably work on and place the sculpture, therefore as a group I believe there will be no difficulty in rearranging the sculpture when playing.

I want to improve how the structure and mechanisms work in the future, therefore I plan to experiment with metal. Although this comes with other issues such as bending and warping, I believe that using a dense metal will eliminate this issue. Also the visible use of metal makes the structure appear stronger and will add another level of approachability. I would initially do this for the mechanisms (axles and cogs) as the lightweight wood structure is appropriate for the main body and would ensure extra pressure is not added.

Happy with the decision on how the work is assembled, I playfully composed the space. This activity was the most immersive ‘flow’ I had experienced from making this sculpture, and it centred my mind back to my original concept to experience space. I found in these moments of play that I was discovering possibilities I hadn’t noticed with the smaller maquettes. Each movement was more considered than ever before. I settled on a composition that presented all the possibilities the sculpture had to offer such as stacked, folded, open, in the air and on the floor with all colours on show. The impact when first viewing the work is a bold one, deliberately adding height as the back and making it as circular, open and as inviting as possible.

As I mentioned I was happy with the work being displayed in that composition, however the inclusion of a floor mat was important for two reasons. It refers back to topological vectors that demonstrate that points of a form act as ‘anchors’ and that forms can be folded, stretched and crumpled from these anchors.

An artist that also uses and refers to a floor mat is artist and mathematician Brian Rotman, with his work Ordinal 5, 2011. https://vimeo.com/80409215 . In the work of Ordinal 5, Rotman aimed to reconnect topology back to the human body, to give the entities not only a visible and relatable form but one that is dynamic and can be continuously transformed. The performance projects a diagram of Ordinal 5 as a ‘mathematical language of categories’ (Tate, 2011) which the dancers had to follow. This language of categories acts as a map, presenting patterns of arrows that capture the mathematical concepts. The dancers then use these patterns as an initial form of choreography to move around the space. The scheme of pathways created by the arrows and the synchronised simultaneous meeting points are the only strict form to the work, the possibility of movement was infinite; mimicking the stretching and crumpling of topology. I personally found this work to be unsuccessful, as to the performative nature caused the viewers to be passive. However, the idea of using a floor plan I think has potential, especially if the audience is an active participant. 

The second reason I am keen to include a floor plan is to create a link to children’s games.  I am specifically thinking of the game Twister; ‘the game that will tie you up knots’. The game instructs participants to twist into different shapes using a spinner (chance) to pick. This idea of a game is something I really want to communicate so others can have that same ‘flow experience’ I had when I was playing. I feel the floor mat will do that as it creates an incentive to match the same shape that is displayed on the floor.

I will communicate this point further through the titling. Upon researching different children’s games and toys, I found a clever and cheeky title is normally used.

I did debate appropriating the Twister slogan to read ‘The artwork that ties you up in knots’ however, after consideration a subtle approach that links to the everyday would be more appreciated. A title I was also keen to use was ‘Flocked for your pleasure’, as the humour suggested would relax the audience. However, I felt that the sexual connotations implied would overshadow the original concept and wouldn’t initiate interaction. I eventually settled with ‘Shift Happens’ the title nods to the everyday, appropriating the phrase ‘Shit happens’. The humour involved while also linking to topology, connects the everyday individual to space.


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