We have now got the cutting pattern ready for the cabinet. The wood elements are going to be cut with laser, which will leave a dark line around the edges where the laser has burnt the wood. Looks good. The clear acrylic will be cut with waterjet; well, it is in fact a fine jet of water with sand in it. This leaves a clean but opaque edge, so my next job is to then flame polish this to make it transparent. In the meantime, I have been getting the blog ready for printing, and that includes a section of the cutting pattern, as you can see here. Thanks Tomas for finalising the pattern in a busy week.
At the end of this project I am going to stock the cabinet with a few carefully chosen items including books I have met along the way, a video, a vial of spring water, and a printed version of this blog. That is where woodcut printing using a traditional Albion Press from around the 1850s comes in: the woodcut print is going on the cover of the blog. I am working with artist-printer Ced Titcombe who has produced a woodcut based on the fungal shapes I have been investigating in the Forest. There is simply something quite magical about hand-press printing: a crude process refined to perfection. Thanks Ced for taking this on. Only 200 to go!
Following on from my previous post, Beneath the Hubbub, and with long-term thinking in mind after my walk with Peter, there is a letter by the musician and composer Brian Eno as part of Artangel’s Longplayer Letters which is well worth a read. His thoughts on improvisation (its etymological roots buried in ‘unforeseen’) as a strategy for an uncertain future are just what this project is about, creating a cabinet designed to become a tool for improvised thinking, for coming up with different strategies for a Forest future. (image: walterwsmith)
Today I met a man for whom short-term is a decade, medium a lifetime, and long the life of an oak. His job to plan what trees to plant in the Forest (or not, as the case may be, as here, which has been cleared to make way for heathland). Conifers stood on this patch for some 40 years; the hollyhocks will be around 2-3 years before they are succeeded by other species; the nightjars, hopefully, for many generations to come. Beyond and beneath this forest hubbub lies the ridge of acidic sandstone (towards the top of the picture) on which it all depends. As uncertainties increase, disease or climate change, take your pick, responding more specifically to the soil and its underlying geology as a way of increasing diversity, hedging your bets, has meant the chance to plant some of this species here, some of that there – “painting with finer brushstrokes”. However much I love this long view, the cabinet needs to be complete soon, so I will turn to the short term from now on. Thanks Peter for taking the time to walk me around your patch.
What I find particularly surprising about this type of 3D scanning is just how much it emphasises the artificial nature of the process. The basic scan (left) has an integrity of its own, whereas when you add colour, light and shade (right) it seems to reinforce how paper-thin this illusion really is. It is almost as if three-dimensional scanning is at the point where photography was during the first few decades of its existence. Then photography seemed to be a direct imprint from the real; its veracity dependent upon the lack of human intervention. It took us many years to break this trust down and to start mistrusting photographs, seeing them for the illusion that they are, and perhaps it is something of this mistrust that the colour, light and shade bring to the basic scan. In contrast, the underlying shape possesses a bit of that old photographic veracity – a direct imprint. How long will it take for us to begin to mistrust this new process? Thanks Tomas for these renders.
Catching some good weather, Tomas Millar and I have been in the Forest scanning trees using a handheld scanner and laptop. (There is just something awkward about laptops in the wild: insects walking over the keyboard, and then it stared to rain!) These scans (I will post an example soon) will be used as the basis for some of the shapes that will be incorporated into the cabinet. We also went to scan the ‘chicken of the woods’ fungus that I posted about earlier, but someone had spotted it in the meantime and sliced it off the tree leaving a truncated yellow scar of fungus behind. Sad to see, but I hope it tasted good! (photo: Chris Morris)
Continuing to work on the cabinet design and exploring new ways of linking library and Forest. Designing the cabinet to fit a tree was an initial idea (see my previous post), but now we are moving in the direction of bringing a piece of the Forest into the library: (metaphorically) putting a branch on a shelf. Imagine a branch sliced into segments and then every other segment removed and replaced with a book: branch, book, branch, book… The cabinet could then ‘grow’ out of this hybrid form, extruding outwards from the shelf, sitting on the front of the bookcase like a fungal growth. What is taking time is to design this so that it can all be cut out of a single sheet of material, and then put together as you would a piece of flat-packed furniture. Here are a few more sketches from this process. (Image: collection of sketches from myself and the designer-makers at Miller Howard Workshop)