Addendum: It was a great success.  See photos

Sculpture Barn-Raising

George W. Hart

Friday, December 10, 2004, 3:00

Students, faculty, and all other members of the Stony Brook community
are invited to come and help assemble this sculpture:

I will lead a "sculpture barn raising" at the Stony Brook University Computer Science Department where we will assemble a large metal sculpture.  The design of the sculpture is indicated in the above computer rendering.  Although it may at first appear rather like a tangle of worms or spaghetti, it is in fact a highly structured network.  Believe it or not, there are only three shapes of pieces, and wherever pieces join they meet at 90 degree angles.  I am having the 180 parts laser-cut from aluminum and you can help me put them together.  When assembled, they will form a ball two meters in diameter, to be hung in the lobby of the Computer Science building.

I can use any number of assistants in this project. To participate, come to the Computer Science building lobby friday afternoon.  It will take several hours---I'm not sure how many---so pop in when you can, starting at 3:00.

I have not settled on a name for this sculpture yet.  (Usually I wait until I see a completed sculpture before firmly naming it.)  However my working title is Global Network, because you can see the parts as forming an intricate network over the surface of a sphere.  An interesting puzzle is to choose any two of the 60 circular "nodes" and find the shortest path between them following pieces of the sculpture. Another possible name could be Spaghetti Code. I am open to suggestions.

To test the assembly concept, I laser-cut wooden parts for a half-scale wooden model.  The image above shows it assembled (hanging temporarily in my living room).  The parts are made of 1/4 inch baltic birch plywood, with mortise and tenon joints, pinned together with small wooden wedges.  You can see the joints and wedges more clearly in a high-resolution version of the image. (424KB) In the large metal version, there will be stainless steel cotter pins to lock the tenons. I thank Erik and Marty Demaine at MIT for kindly letting me use a laser-cutter at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to cut these wooden parts. 

If you lie on the floor of the CS lobby directly under the sculpture and look up, you will be viewing along a 5-fold axis.  You will see the symmetric view indicated above. There are also five other places in the lobby where you can stand and see this same view. I envision it as a fusion of high tech and baroque, of mathematical and organic.

The above image shows a 3-inch diameter model made on a rapid prototyping machine, laser sintered from nylon powder.  I had to over-thicken the parts a bit to make it sturdy enough to hold together. So it it a bit chunky and loses some of the design's intended feeling of lightness but gives a good sense of the intricacy of the structure. Thank you Jim Quinn for fabricating this delicate model.

If you are a student who likes this sort of thing, you may be interested in a new course, CSE125 -- Computer Science and Sculpture, which I will be giving for the first time in the spring of 2005.

If you are curious about my previous sculptures or sculpture barn raisings, follow these links: