Ball-Nogues Studio
Custom 3D form-finding software for Unseen Current, a site-specific installation at Extension Gallery for Architecture, Chicago


Ball-Nogues Studio's Unseen Current (detail). Photograph: Michelle Litvin



Designer: Ball-Nogues Studio

Project: Unseen Current

Venue: Extension Gallery for Architecture, Chicago

Links: Ball-Nogues Studio: Unseen Current, Extension Gallery

Description: In Ball-Nogues Studio's site-specific installation, 3000 hanging strings– 10 miles of material– bridge the walls of the gallery. The arragement of this three dimensional array of catenaries is has been carefully orchestrated to acheive different effects, depending on the viewer's position. From a distance, Unseen Current suggests a surface or volume, but as the viewer enters the work, it appears to disperse, like a rolling fog.


Our Role: Custom 3D form-finding software


Working closely with Ball-Nogues Studio, we created custom software tor explore the form of Unseen Current and expedite its fabrication. The software made design and revision fast and intuitive. With near real-time visual feedback, Ball-Nogues Studio was able to evaluate numerous design schemes quickly. Qualities such as "flow," density, color, are parameterized to be continuously variable across the installation. Rather than modeling each of the unique catenaries by hand, Ball-Nogues Studio were able to define the character of the installation in relatively abstract terms. The custom software handles the details, automatically generating the required catenaries, a database of string lengths, and construction documentation.