Timelapse Architecture – A Fluid Sculpture

The body is in a continual state of growth and decay; change that often goes unnoticed by the hour. Similarly, a landscape goes through stages of drought and virility in each season. These continual fluctuations found in our bodies and our landscapes have inspired a sculptural fluid fabric which uses a morphic textile surface of colored water and air.

What may go unnoticed to the quick glance of the sculpture, are the long term rhythmic changes which have been captured and displayed here using time-lapse photography. From morning to night the piece has its own rhythmic characteristics; a stutter, a sudden release of energy, a calm as pressure builds through the 1500 feet of pressurized tubing.

I begin to wonder about tectonic activity under our feet. The slow fluid movement of the earths plates. The build up of pressure, the sudden release of energy. The pulse of the earth tremors recorded over thousands of years may reveal their own rhythms that go unnoticed by the quick glance of our life span.

Tectonic Mutations is a fabric art installation for the World of Threads by Nathan Johns

Thanks for watching.

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Morphing Scale to Imagine Habitation

I often take a moment to observe my work from a different angle to create a sense of habitation.  This shift in scale allows me to inhabit the work and imagine new forms of wall, roof and building enclosure. Feel free to browse the gallery and lend some feedback if you wish.  Here are the photo’s of these explorations.

architectural compression

architecture weaving

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World of Threads – Variegated Threads

Its been a long time waiting but the time has finally come for the opening of the World of Threads  2012 Festival. Nearly 200 local, national and international contemporary fiber artists have been jury selected for  21 exhibits that open this weekend. This monumental show is undertaken by the efforts of two hard working volunteers; Dawne Rudman and Gareth Bateman, who have cultivated this seedling for 6 years now turning out their biggest show yet. I jumped on board this year and have some invested interest  in the Halls of the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville where I’m proud to be a part of the Variegated Threads exhibit.

This diverse collection of work for the Variegated Threads exhibit features 25 artists from Australia, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, and the USA. The front lobby to the QEP hosts a flurry of moving bodies and on display is my contribution to the show which mimics the open energy with fluid moving colour and air. This installation, although built in Winnipeg, was ‘painted’ on site using a technique of blending colours and injecting them into the piece bit by bit using custom pumps.

After injecting the transparent piece with colour, I set the injection pumps back into itself to recirculate the fluid. By using a self timer to turn it on and off during QEP’s operational hours, I have removed the human hand and set the piece spinning into a self evolving and autopoietic piece of art. If one where to pass by this piece hour to hour it would never be the same. The two systems of tubes allow the colours to flow adjacent one another continually creating new colour contrasts. At certain times, the blue is paired with the yellow, sometimes with the purple. As the colours circulate over the coming months they begin to blend and dull like fall colours turning to winters edge. This piece, like all other living things, contains elements of memory, time, space, and architecture of a temporal nature.

After two hours in operation the piece has renewed and decayed in same the moment. I have yet to see this painting again.

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Nui Blanche at the WAG

The Winnipeg Art Gallery hosts a great event during Nuit Blanche which brings in over 4000 people to explore the galleries and rooftop attractions. I was fortunate enough to be asked to decorate the benches for this event and with little less than 30 days to propose, design, construct, and install a new piece, I had my hands full. I created two ‘bench facades’ made of of clear flexible veins, skeletal under-structure, and a mechanical heart which moves coloured fluid and air as one sculptural phenomena.

The fabric surface of the first piece is quite tame and displays a repeating undulating surface which is accomplished by the laser cut mullions that hold it together. To illuminate the pieces at night I used light rope.



My inspiration for the texture on the second piece comes from the oscillations of an immaterial and imaginary space. Cluster together in your mind the idea of windy water, the tide rolling through the sand, the shape of a sound wave bouncing through a hallway. All these things posses something in common which came together to form the shape.

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Turbulent Motions – Nuit Blanche

All across Canada people from a variety of cultural and artistic mediums came forward for Culture Days and filled the urban fabric of their city with installations, shows, events, and displays. I had the opportunity to enter some work at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Old Market Square by the generous people at Nuit Blanche and with little less than 30 days to prepare for the two displays, I had my hands full. Using the materials I proposed of clear tubing and coloured water I crafted two distinct pieces that conformed to each setting; a  garden and two outdoor gallery benches.

Nuit Blanche - Nathan JohnsThe Old market Square in the Exchange district of Winnipeg had a garden area filled with few trees and small plants .  Scattered throughout the garden I planted or hung small biomorphic bodies that mimic the landscape through natural fluid shapes and a chameleon like skin that conforms to its surrounding.  Connecting these pieces like fruit to a tree I created a network of cable vines and roots to provide fluid energy from one piece to the next. Consider now all the sculptures connected into a matrix circuit of tubes that provide each node with a temporary palette of colour. This energy is provided by a small mechanical box housing the pumps and fluid.  As the fluid moves from node to vine, to root, and on to the next sculpture, the variation of injected colours creates a transient colour effect.

Just as the colours change from one to the next, the same cyclic mentality is applied as day falls over to the night. In the darkness, the pieces become illuminated using small headlamp lights for the nodes and light rope for the roots.  I was fortunate enough to have installed the piece during the short stage of fall when all the colours were changing. My material palette was a beautiful mix of deep oranges, fading greens, and hints of red scattered about. Naturally these colours fade over the coming weeks and the biomorphic bodies followed along the same temporal cycle.  As the colours are circulated from each node they slowly begin to blend from rich Secondary and Tertiary colours to an earthy mix of browns just as the leaves do when they mix with the earth.

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Biomorphic Bodies

There was a time when the biological analogy in architecture and the applied arts was simple mimicry of the human form  through exterior observation.  The  column, which is ancient to our construction techniques and most subject to anthropomorphic treatment, is  proportioned to that of the human torso. The facade, simply put, translates to the face of the building.  The comparison between architecture and the biological body has firm roots in the evolution of design but our curiosity of the two keep expanding into new once unobserved realms.

Recently use of X-Ray, MRI and other forms of imaging techniques have allowed us to see inside the architecture of seemingly static objects.  However under the eye of these technical marvels reveals an architecture beyond your standard textbook section. A blog called Inside Insides, by Andy Elison, an MRI technologist at Boston University Medical School, displays the pictures taken by the MRI machine in GIF form.  This gives us an unobstructed view from inside to outside, and back again.  As well, the GIF paints a unique space-time structure of growth as it fluidly moves from stem to branch.

Another materially intrusive form of photography uses X-rays to “see” multiple layers of interior structure and exterior skin. This photo by Nick Veasey shows a star fish void of colour and surface texture. Instead we get a glimpse into its material layers; inside and outside collapsed on one plan. Without colour and exterior surface, the starfish looses its material characteristics and becomes open to interpretation. Its appearance now resembles that of a transparent snowflake with mechanical like details. It could almost be a product of industrial production with its radial underlay and repeating sub structure.

These two biomorphic bodies now ‘seen’ in a new light, give us an immaterial perspective of how nature structures its products. We can now see the answer to which nature has been solving for eternity; that problem of governing matter into functional material through natural forces of space and time.

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Cellular Armature

architecture skin

Cellular Architecture

‘Constantly observe all that comes about through change, and habituate yourself to the thought that the nature of the Whole loves nothing so much as to change one form of existence into another, similar but new. All that exists is in a sense the seed of its successor: but your concept of ‘seed’ is simply what is put into the earth or the womb.’

-Marcus Aurelius

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