- Inhabiting Geometry
Anne Tyng Retrospective
- Under the guidance of the late visionary architect and theorist, Anne Tyng, Kristen Smith collaborated with Srdjan Weiss with Normal Architecture Office to conceive an immersive installation that realizes the ambition of all Tyng’s work: to inhabit geometry. Since the 1950s, when she worked closely with Louis I. Kahn and independently pioneered habitable space-frame architecture, Tyng has applied natural and numeric systems to build forms at all scales, from urban plans to domestic spaces. This exhibit, first displayed at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and later at the Graham Foundation in Chicago, was Tyng’s first retrospective exhibit. Curated by Ingrid Schaffner, Srdjan Weiss, and William Whittaker, the exhibit also features a selection of drawings, models and documentation of Tyng’s past projects from the University of Pennsylvania archive.
The installation consisted of the five platonic solids – hexahedron, tetrahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron – representing pure form and order paired with an intricate double helix spiraling off into apparent controlled chaos. With a short production time, small budget, and limited tools, the realization of the parts relied on precise documentation and simple detailing to work.
Conceptually, the solids were expressed as being made up of overlapping strips which outline the shape’s form and volume while limiting the amount of material required. Interlocking hexahedra nested within each of the platonic solids to provide both structural stability and aid in an expression of Tyng’s principles of mathematical proportion. A simple accordion system of overlapping plywood strips made up the double helix system which was contorted and supported by a tensile structural network of wires emanating from the walls.