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Friday, January 10, 2014

3D Printed Fashion, Architecture and Media: threeASFOUR MER KA BA

I was fascinated by the threeASFOUR MER KA BA exhibit at the Jewish is creative, unique and moving!! Inspired by the symbolism of geometry and the tile formations found in mosques, synagogues and churches, it is a contemporary mixed media installation using 3d printed fashion, architecture and video. The avant garde design team threeASFOUR collaborated with architect  Bradley RothenbergStudio Christian Wassmann, and 3-D animation designer Alex Czetwertynski bringing together ancient symbols with cutting edge-technology. Get mystified and catch the exhibit still running until Feb 2nd. When you walk into the space you will be taken aback by a featured pyramidal structure with projections of light and printed fashion suspended above you....

I learned that "MER KA BA the phrase has roots from ancient Eqypt. Mer (rotating light), ka (spirit) and ba (body). Placed together the merkaba is described as an energy field through which which the soul enters the body and ascends to higher planes."

Walking thru the exhibit you feel an energy.... like the merkaba is everywhere from the synthetic fabrics to the lighting to the animations to the pyramid.... The patterns and prints are architectural and loaded with geometrical  intricacies....

I was fortunate to meet architect Bradley Rothenberg, responsible for the 3D printed MER KA BA prints, at a lecture last year about 3d printing and fashion. I was extremely fascinated by the fractal nature of these MER Ka BA designs and was able to ask Bradley Rothenberg to DEFINE WHAT A FRACTAL IS....

He adds, I think Mandelbrot is the best to reference when describing what a fractal is -- he coined the term from the latin adjective fractus, the corresponding latin verb frangere means "to break."  To create irregular fragments.  He came up with this term to classify a new set of 20th century geometry that could better describe nature than the classical mathematicians of the 19th c. For me, a fractal is a mathematical system that involves the same structure on multiple scales to create the complexity that we usually see in nature.


We started using fractals because we wanted to create a new way of making interlocking textiles.  Fractal's seemed to have a lot of potential because the same geometry could repeat & interlock with itself, while changing scale creating a textile that could have different performance characteristics throughout.


You don't have to use a fractal to make something textile-like -- think chain-mail -- however, the complexity of the fractal allowed us to make a textile that had different textile characteristics throughout the textile, something that transitioned from being a very flexible & fine fabric, to thicker more sculptural areas.  Had we been able to print at a higher resolution than the printers can currently print at, however, we could have had something even more closer to a fine textile lace or silk.  In the project we were able to run the fractal through at least 5 generations -- Because a fractals complexity increases exponentially, if we could have run the fractal 100 generations we would really be able to recreate a number of properties one usually only see's in nature -- think the way skin wrinkles around certain joints, or the level of detail within the branches of a snowflake...

Winding at the end of the exhibition is the wow moment...inside the pyramidal structure are mirrored walls shaped like a six-pint star by architect Christian Wassman. The reflections are perspectival in an artful and soulful way...  

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