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November 20, 2009

Artist Tobias Putrih gave a gallery talk at the List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts last week, shedding light on the ideas behind his latest exhibition, Without Out.

L-R: Tobias Putrih and Michael Meredith, photo by Colin Davison
L-R: Tobias Putrih and Michael Meredith, photo by Colin Davison
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putrih without out

Without Out is third in a series of collaborations between Putrih and collective MOS. After meeting at a Buckminster Fuller symposium, Michael Meredith and Putrih decided to work together -- applying their common fascination with Processing (an open-source, parametric programming language) to design and architecture.

L-R: Tobias Putrih and Michael Meredith, photo by Colin Davison
L-R: Tobias Putrih and Michael Meredith, photo by Colin Davison

The core piece of the exhibit, Erosion, is a massive hulk of 2,180 styrofoam bricks, which at first glance seem to be a haphazard aggregation study. Upon further scrutiny (and explanation from the artist), I learned that it was derived from their previous installation at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, Overhang. While Overhang was generated by a Processing-based software that added stacked bricks to maximum protrusion, Erosion is the opposite. As I tiptoed beneath the precarious pile, I could see exactly where the software eroded and dug into the form, subtracting to create negative space. "Instead of exploring architecture as a stable, static entity, this is about the notion of built form at the point precisely before collapse -- that exact moment before ruin, failure," explained Putrih.

Known for his untraditional use of common materials, Putrih showcases smaller sculptures in the other half of the exhibit -- like a series of sketch models done in preparation for the grandiose final review next door. "Each piece expresses two main concepts: modularity and non-fixedness," he stated. Referencing Friedrich Frobel, the inventor of kindergarten, Putrih drew a parallel between his work and developmental psychology theory -- "I think of these as educational and therapeutic, reinforcing the playfulness of the materials."

When I asked about the fate of all the materials after the show is over, gallery educator Mark Linga sang, "We're giving away tons of styrofoam, so...come and get it!"

putrih erosion
putrih zipper
putrih hexagons
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putrih wheels

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