Sculpture at Goodwood, Cass Foundation

“Star and Cloud”

In its initial manifestation as electronic information — a three dimensional model in virtual space — was, from the start, intended to be realised in real space through rapid prototyping (layer manufacture). By reading computer files this mechanical process produced small models untouched by hand.

In making the large sculpture at Goodwood, the principle of the layering process to produce 3D volumes was continued and involved cutting templates and assembling polystyrene sections to make scale models for casting in aluminium. Although this template driven process could be viewed as mechanical, the hand of the craftsman, the irregularities involved in the material process, and the unanticipated features of “scaling up” also played a role as the sculpture evolved towards completion.

A fundamental concept in the work is embedded in what digital modelling can do in virtual space, namely that contours of one object can remove areas of another object thereby diagramming intersections. This Boolean function was employed in a simultaneous way. Each object intrudes on the other’s form. That part of one object coming into contact with the other is removed, and vice verse. So, a portion of the “cloud” shape only exists as an impression in the “star” shape. Likewise, the segments of the star which cut into the cloud no longer exist, apart from the negative impressions in the cloud.

It is the reading of the “negative” surface of one object that reveals the absent shape of the other. While the two objects are quite distinct (an amorphous organic cloud and a geometric “extruded” star), they are intimately connected. They share a history and a space. At one time they nestled together. Now apart, there is a void between them, a third “phantom” shape to which both objects have contributed. The viewer’s imagination can speculate on this conundrum and reconstruct and reintegrate the wholes.

The Cass Foundation closed in 2020. The sculpture “Star and Cloud” entered the permanent art collection of the Isaac Newton Institute of Mathematics, Cambridge University.