Punk’d, an installation in the SCI-Arc Gallery, explores the visual effects that can be produced when two-dimensional graphic patterns are translated into three-dimensional constructions. Located at the intersection of architectural and graphic form, Punk’d, slips between two and three dimensions into a space of 2.5D where color, pattern, and luminosity are precisely calibrated in an effort to augment the effects of three dimensional forms.
The dominant paradigm for generating graphic impressions at the scale of architecture is by deploying techniques of appliqué. Examples would be to put paint onto a wall or to adhere a printed image to a surface. In both instances, a material substrate is constructed and then a graphic is overlaid onto it. Punk’d rejects appliqué as a technique for integrating graphics with architecture and instead promotes a technique called tectonic painting. Tectonic painting supposes that when the logic of construction is part and parcel of the graphic field the range of effects that are possible multiplies. With tectonic painting, the graphic field emerges out of the logic of construction. Specifically, this installation seeks to modulate color gradients, views, opacity and figural legibility through the structural interpretation of graphic strokes.
In this installation, textile design is used as a foundation for understanding how to translate graphic patterns into construction logics. Specifically, Punk’d translates a swatch of tartan fabric into an architectural form. Tartan, often miss-labeled as plaid, is a method for constructing fabric that yields a specific graphic effect. Tartan fabric is produced by weaving strips of colored thread into a grid of rectangular shapes. When threads of different colors overlap, new colors emerge. Punk’d translates the graphic logic of tartan construction into three dimensional form by twisting and interlocking strips of colored aluminum.
While tartan serves as a model for developing a graphic tectonic, it also serves as a foundation for conceptual development. Tartan is an overtly political textile. The color and bandwidth pattern of a particular piece of fabric is culturally associated with a specific family or ‘clan’. The potential for tartan to denote pedigree has given it symbolic meaning that, in some instances, is used to subvert conventions of hierarchy. It was the fabric of choice for Vivienne Westwood in the early 70’s when she was defining the image of punk. It’s the only fabric that, when constructed into a skirt, allows the garment to be worn by a man without undermining his masculinity. In my translation of tartan fabric into architectural form, an effort is made to transgress associations of pedigree. The color palette for Punk’d is lifted from the Balmoral tartan, the official tartan of the Royal Family, which is illegal to wear without the express written consent of the queen. The material details recall the iconic punk form of the spike.