paper and glue in artist made frame
This beautifully written essay at Cabinet of Wonders, Mechanical Thinking and the Human Soul, includes some amazing sculptures by paper artist Peter Callesen. Callesen’s A4 papercut series are razored from a sheet of paper and assembled, still tethered umbilically to their mother sheet, yet folded and glued into a 3D shape that responds to the original 2D negative space they departed.
I recognized Callesen’s work from various blogs, especially the dying-poppies piece Alive but Dead and the thinking skeleton Looking Back. But until seeing the pieces juxtaposed with each other, I hadn’t realized what a wonderful sense of humor they have – superimposed on a sort of double spatial thinking that is really quite amazing.
His work reminds me of a favorite grade school pastime: writing multipage lists of cursor instructions intended to draw a castle, which I would later input into a primitive Apple, to discover if I had successfully kept track of all the angles in my head, or if the drawbridge would end up sticking sideways off the battlements. Either way, I was breathless to see what the code would give me.
It’s almost, but not quite, correct to say the reward of coding cursor castles was half in the planning, half in the final payoff. The potential for the castle was in the code already – it hardly needed to be executed. Typing it into the computer was the boring part. Nevertheless, it was surprisingly pleasurable when the imagined form became tangible so my eyes could appreciate it along with the mind. Callesen’s works represent a similar intricate planning process, but instead of making the outcome merely an obligate test of a plan, he tweaks the 3D structures so they react against and defy their 2D shadow templates. Each one is something coming alive, changing unpredictably in the moment of transformation.