At Princeton, our students are taking final exams now. In the course that the visual artist Joe Scanlan and I teach, VIS418/CEE418 Extraordinary Processes, students were tasked this semester with designing and building beds that are equally inspired by their creativity and the structural principles of engineering. What you might find interesting is that, for their final exam, the students were required to spend the night, sleeping in and full scale testing the beds they’ve made. Some of them are pretty crazy, we have no idea how they made it through the night. The show Extraordinary Processes is currently on exhibit in the C0-Lab at the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University until February 3rd 2020. Come and test out these extraordinary beds!
Over the past 100 years, artists around the world have become increasingly interested in the aesthetic value of everyday life. Pablo Picasso’s Still Life With Chair Caning, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans, and El Anatsui’s mosaics are all examples of ordinary objects becoming extraordinary works of art.
As a hands-on studio class, our students investigated the creative processes and technical skills that made these transformations possible. The course specifically focuses on the extraordinary (structural and aesthetic) potential of ash wood, currently a beetle-infested waste material in USA.
Processes is a material- and studio-driven course taking place in three locations: testing labs in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; a sculpture studio in the Lewis Center; and field work in the natural habitat. The focus of the course is to: research the circumstances of infested ash trees; develop a thorough understanding of the wood’s material properties; and ultimately design, make, and analyze novel experiments made of infested local ash wood. Overall, the course is a hands-on learning environment in which engineering and art can intersect and inform each other in a team-taught studio setting.