Aperture Lucida | Tristan Duke | Exploratorium

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As the viewer walks towards this ball of
light, it very much appears to be in the space of the room and as they move back
and forth or change their position, the ball of light behaves like an object
that has permanence in the room and then, as you actually approach and then step
into the ball of light, the experience opens up and shifts radically. The ball of light sort of expands to
consume you and at the same time sort of explodes and disappears. At that
point, the mechanism of the sculpture becomes apparent. What appeared to be
this black monolithic surface is in fact riddled with holes and these holes are
all precision aligned in order to create this optical illusion. One aspect of the sculpture is the
physical reality of this black, monolithic structure with a bunch of
holes in it and the other structure is a psychological sculpture, a sculpture of
the viewer’s own perception and projection. The ball of light, does it
exist or doesn’t it exist? On one hand, you can say, yes, it is an optical fact
that light is being focused in this way but there’s nothing here and yet to
our perception, it really appears to be here. It’s really exciting to me to play
with that kind of idea of a purely sort of psychological dimension, if you will,
to sculpture. On a certain fundamental level, the work
that I have done is always interdisciplinary. I’m always interested
in sort of navigating those edges between established fields of knowledge.
So, for me what’s really exciting is to kind of explore those kind of gaps or
those spaces where it feels like we’re giving birth to something that has never
been seen before. That space can be the space to ask a
question, it can be the space to not know for a minute. I think that’s one of the
things that first drew me to the Exploratorium, is realizing kindred
spirits in this mission of sort of reigniting that spark of curiosity in
children of all ages and being able to have people reconnect with that sense of
wonder. This project was a great project to do as Artist-in-Residence here
because of the unique skill sets and tools that the Exploratorium could bring
to the project. This was a very CNC, computer machining heavy project. We
calculated that we had drilled, just for this object alone, over half a million
holes that are all precision aligned to create this effect.
Luckily, the Exploratorium has its own fully equipped shop with people who have
amazing technical skills here. It was a great place to not only prototype but
fabricate the final project. Yeah, in some ways this is kind of like a
Swiss cheese hologram. It’s just a structure that’s
riddled with holes. There’s a simplicity to it and a directness that I think is very fitting, especially for the Exploratorium, because, unlike your iPhone
or many of the technological marvels that we’re used to interacting with, you
can actually walk up to this and you can stick your pinky finger into one of
these holes and you can actually touch it and see and feel how it works. There’s
no mystery here but then, yet, there is because somehow in the synthesis of how
the whole thing comes together, there’s magic there.

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