* project narrative:
"Butades, a potter of Sicyon, was the first who invented, at Corinth, the art of modelling portraits in the earth which he used in his trade. It was through his daughter that he made the discovery; who, being deeply in love with a young man about to depart on a long journey, traced the profile of his face, as thrown upon the wall by the light of the lamp. Upon seeing this, her father filled in the outline, by compressing clay upon the surface, and so made a face in relief, which he then hardened by fire along with other articles of pottery."
Pliny the Elder, 'The Inventors of the Art of Modelling' - Book XXXV, Chapter 43, in 'The Natural History'.
* project description:
The project takes its title from the scene described above. The scene involves different classes of observers, modes of communication, and synthetic actions in which the shadow of a person is traced upon a wall and re-constructed by another observer [external to the initial event] into a three-dimensional relief. Pliny's scene describes a fixed source of illumination.
Origin of Modelling re-constructs this scene with the introduction of a dynamic light source and a system of components with analogous roles to the protagonists in the original description. The notion of introducing a dynamic light source to the scene is not novel. Karl F. Schinkel depicted this in his'The Origin of Painting' . The implication of employing a dynamic light source is that there must be continuous observation of the shadow trace, and that this must re-inform the modelling of the artefact.
In his seminal essay'Translations from Drawing to Building', Robin Evans points to a continual appropriation of Pliny's scene by painters who have essentially removed a dimension through their depictions of the 'Origin of Painting' or the 'Origin of Drawing'.
This project seeks to readjust the focus back to an activity in which there is a circular relationship between the two-dimensional projected representation, and the synthesis of a three-dimensional artefact.
* research paper:
A research paper that develops the conceptual underpinning for the project appears in a special double issue of Kybernetes [vol.36, issue 9/10], guest edited by Ranulph Glanville. This issue of the journal explores the relationship between design and cybernetics.