Colorado School of Mines, CoorsTek Center
Convergence merges the landscapes of applied sciences, engineering and art into a singular, aesthetic gesture through the structural design principles of “tensegrity”, or tensional integrity. This interconnected network of structures, which use tension and compression to retain a shape, was coined by American architect Buckminster Fuller, yet was first realized by artist Kenneth Snelson in the 1940s. Tensegrity structures have applications in architecture (bridge, domes), mechanical engineering (foldable support structures), biology (structual stability of cells, prosthetics) and art (sculptures). Conceptually, the systematic format of a tensegrity construction and the aesthetic of the balanced form is a relevant and dynamic expression of the interdisciplinary education offered at the CoorsTek Center.
Utilizing the ceramic objects produced by CoorsTek, Convergence exhibits the special qualities of these materials by employing them as the structural strut components of the sculpture itself. The ceramic tubes will become the compression members held in place by a network of tension wires and hardware, thereby achieving equilibrium. Pure force and matter work together in a way that mirror the systems in nature and therefore reflect the aesthetic qualities found in organic forms. One of Fuller’s favorite sayings was that “nature has no separate departments of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, art, or architecture. To fully explore tensegrity, one must span all these disciplines.”
The suspended sculpture is expansive upon entering the building, and gently slopes upward, following the staircase, into a streamlined, systematic form. The shape resembles a funnel, pointing inward toward the center of the building - metaphorically guiding ideas, explorations, collaborations, and studies and into a focused, rythmic and learned path. Ultimately, the funnel-shaped tensegrity structure becomes a visual embodiment of navigating the study of applied sciences and physics through an artistic lens.
Collaborators: I/O Studio