Screens

My work on screens began with the encounter of the work of Erwin Hauer, an Austrian-American sculptor, especially his ornamental screens on an architectural scale (sometimes named “modular constructivism”) from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I was fascinated by his description of the geometrically complex inner spaces, contained within the wall sized screens, coming to our attention only when “suffused with luminescence.” By interweaving continuous surfaces, pockets of saddle-shaped geometry are formed behind the outer surface. Geometric properties and their perceptual effects – such as our inability to intuitively read from its shadow pattern the direction of a saddle shape that combines convexity and concavity, and the resulting bouncing around of light rays in the pocket – creates an unfamiliar, complex perceptual experience. This phenomenon is varied over time, as light travels over the ornament or as the subject moves in relation to the screen. When viewed from a distance, the screen offers a flat, graphic experience, but when up close, its tactility, penetrability and three-dimensionality becomes evident. Thus, on an architectural scale, the screens paradoxically both provide filtration of direct light, yet seem to radiate for more light than a similar flat plane with comparable holes would.

Erwin Hauer identifies continuity and [potential] infinity as fundamental aspects of his work. Singular repetitive modules form surfaces that are continuous throughout an entire structure; in principle infinite patterns of repetition. The saddle surface, containing “the seed of infinite expansion” is of particular importance to his work, and most of the singular modules making up his screens are variations of the saddle surface. The combination of convex and concave curvature allows for seam-less self-combination in all directions, much like tiles in three dimensions.

The repetitive patterns of apertures vary dramatically in relation to the source of light and the position of the viewer. Thus, while the inherent topological characteristics of the modules ensure continuity and homogeneity, the experience and perception of the patterns are temporal, perspectival and fundamentally subjective. When far away from the screen the patterns tend to form large, graphic patterns, while the perceptual experience up close is almost the opposite: tactile and plastic.

Exploring the potential of the endless repetition made possible by contemporary production techniques, my research has lead to a series of screens with interior pockets. While Hauer’s production method is based on the casting and assembling of identical modules, I used a subtractive method, where the apertures were created by removing (by CNC-milling) material from a solid block. This naturally allows for further material explorations and resulting visual effects.
Furthermore, because computer-controlled production technology makes mass production of non-identical parts possible, I have introduced variation and distortion into the repetitive patterns; setting into play the subjective perception even before the viewer or the light moves.