Prototype for a Breathing Skin
By Neri Oxman
2007, Polyurethane, machinable wax
Museum of Modern Art, NY
The project explores the notion of material organization as it is informed by structural and environmental performance. A continuous tiling system is differentiated across its entire surface area to accommodate a range of physical conditions of light transmission, heat flux, stored energy modulation and structural support. The surface is thickened locally where it is structurally required to support itself, and modulates its transparency according to the light conditions of its hosting environment. 20 tiles are assembled as a continuum comprised of multiple resin types - rigid and/or flexible. Each tile is designed as a structural composite representing the local performance criteria as manifested in the mixtures of liquid resin. A single 3-D milled semi adjustable mold made of machinable wax is used to generate multiple tiles. Each tile is cast with high temperature curing plastic deforming the original mold with each casting procedure by controlling the temperature gradient across the surface area of the mold. These processes speculate about light and/or heat sensitive environmental-specific construction techniques.
The work is inspired by the Cartesian Wax thesis as elucidated by Descartes in the 1640’s. The thesis relates to the construction of material perception and effect in our experience of the physical world. According to Descartes, the essence of the wax is whatever survives the various changes in the wax’s physical form. Not unlike the Cartesian Wax, “materials that think” embody processes of formation that have generated their physical form. Photos: Mikey Siegel