Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Buckys on the Channel

Photo by Barry Cronin
FPAC is catching up with Carol Bugarin who is not only exhibiting some fun and exciting floating art on the channel, but also making us think a bit about design and the great inventor himself, Buckminster Fuller.  Her work is supported by Friends of Fort Point Channel and the Fort Point Arts Community, and will be exhibited on the Fort Point Channel from October 7th to November 10th.  A great chance to catch her "floating art" and other works by local Fort Point artists is during the FPAC Fall Open Studios taking place October 19-21.

Buckys on the Channel - A Buckyball is nickname for a geometric shape called a truncated icosahedron. It has 32 faces made up of hexagons and pentagons. Richard Buckminster Fuller popularized this shape in his Geodesic domes and architecture. This shape universally appears in design, art, math, science, medicine, technology and play. 

FPAC:  What drew you to Buckminster Fuller’s design of the Geodesic Domes for your floating art project?

CB:  I had a book in high school which introduced me to Buckminster Fullers Geodesic Domes.  I was fascinated by the structure and how it held together without interior supports.  I liked the repetition of pattern and how these simple individual shapes of hexagons, pentagons and triangles were used to create a more complex structure.

FPAC:  What has been the hardest hurdle so far in constructing these geo-domes?

CB:  The hardest part was using a material that has never been used before to construct the Buckyballs.  There was a lot of experimentation but I finally landed on a fairly good combination of materials.  What gives the Buckyballs its shape is “tensegrity”.  This is the push and pull on an object to create a continuous tensile force stabilizing the structure.   Each piece of pool noodle has 2 zip ties through the middle that attaches to another zip tie in an opposite pool noodle.  When the zip ties are tightened up tensegrity takes over and forms a ball.

FPAC:  Clearly, you needed a material that floated and pool noodles are quite bendable.  Do think it ironic that this kids toy is re-creating a concept by one of America's greatest engineers and inventors?

Photo by Barry Cronin

CB:  No.  I believed that Buckminster Fuller enjoyed inventing, creating and playing through out his life.  I’m just using the pool noodle like another building material.

FPAC:  When the project is completed, how many pool noodles will you have gone through?

CB:  For this project I created a combination of seven true Buckyballs and nine additional geometric shapes called icosahedrons.  An icosahedron is a combination of 5 interconnecting pentagons and is the predecessor to the truncated icosahedron / Buckyball.  I have used over 500 pool noodles.  Each of the large Buckyballs has 270 pieces.  The size of the ball determines how many pieces I can get out of one, 56 inch pool noodle.

FPAC:  Why do some of the Buckyballs look like they are made up from triangles?

CB:  This is called “stellation”  Which means dividing the pentagon and hexagon shapes in a star pattern.  This triangulation gives the structure more stability.  The pentagons and hexagons are still there you just have to look harder.

FPAC:  What do you hope the public will learn from your project?

CB:  I’m not sure that they need to learn anything.  I just hope they find it fun and enjoyable to look at.  I always like to see art in unexpected places.  That’s why I have enjoyed the floating art over the years on the Fort Point Channel.  I feel honored to be selected to create the floating art this fall.

Photo by Barry Cronin

 FPAC:  Lastly, we want to see if you "get down" with futurism - Do you, like Bucky, have a belief of Ephemeralization -  the ability of technological advancement to do "more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing".

CB:  I don’t know about that but I do believe in what Buckminster Fuller has engraved on his headstone, “Call me Trim Tab”.  A trim tab is a small connector attached to a larger piece and with the slightest of movement can create an exponential effect on something bigger than itself.  Small changes can make big differences.

Floating art is sponsored by generous support of The Friends of Fort Point Channel, a nonprofit organization committed to making the Fort Point Channel an exciting and welcoming destination for all of Boston’s residents, workforce and visitors.  

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