George W. Hart

This four-foot diameter sculpture, Champy, is at the Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, VT.  It consists of thirty components---abstractly something like two-headed "lake monsters"---that dance around each other and interlock at the hands and mouths.  The name Champy comes from the legend of a reputed lake monster said to be living in Lake Champlain.  I made a video about the sculpture to explain some of the mathematical ideas underlying its intricate, symmetric structure and this page shows some of the steps to work out all the details of the design.

On November 7-8, 2016, I worked with students at BBA to create the parts and assemble the sculpture.  The image above shows the components while the finish is drying.  Each is a module made of three laser-cut Baltic birch plywood pieces that are stained and glued together.  For the complete sculpture, there are six modules in each of five different colors.

Assembling it was a tricky exercise in geometry and coloring.  They interlock in a symmetric geometric arrangement based on the thirty face planes of a rhombic triacontahedron.  Above, it is partially complete.  You might notice how the two small tabs near the middle of each part lock it to its neighbors for extra rigidity.

The week, before, I test-built the structure in my studio in NY to check the fit.  The image above gives a better view of the interior and shows the parts held together with small binder clips before I had sanded, stained, and glued them.

I also made a snap-together model from flexible ABS plastic sheet.  This was intended for people to assemble and take apart repeatedly, so they can understand the structure before putting together the full-scale version.  It makes for a nice puzzle.

A few weeks before that, I had made a smaller (13-inch) model of the design in laser-cut wood, to check its rigidity and explore the color pattern.  The parts are arranged with a five-color pattern based on the compound of five cubes. The order of the five colors of heads is different around each of the twelve five-sided openings.  (The twelve orders are the even cyclic permutations of each other.)  The six pieces of any one color never touch, but are all parallel or orthogonal, arranged like the six faces of a cube.  (This smaller model is part of the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings Art Exhibition.)

Ten years before making this sculpture, I came up with the general design (which I had then called Monsters) and made a paper version (i.e., modular kirigami), but I hadn't had an occasion to create a sculpture with this design in a more permanent material until this year.

And my first models of the design were all digital renderings.

Thank you to all the students at the Burr and Burton Academy who participated in the assembly, to Bonnie Niles for wonderfully arranging everything, and to Paul Molinelli for generous assistance in the shop and installing the hanging cable.

Copyright 2016, George W. Hart