June 1, 2012
Looking for a way of following up on yesterdays post (about Barry Rosenthal’s photographs of equidistant discarded bottles and why I felt there was something inherently “modern” about those patterns) I found these things:
1. Bocianelli drawing template #2232 (via Amazon)
Not intended as an aesthetically-pleasing pattern in its own right, but to avoid creating weak links between bottle shapes, the template was designed with consistent spaces in between. (Modernist idea: form follows function)
2. Bottle patterns featured in contemporary illustration
Above Left: a detail of Oliver Munday’s 2008 cover illustration for a NY Times book review of Bottlemania. (This illustration was featured on box vox in 2008, but its pattern of equally spaced bottles fits so perfectly that I feel compelled to recycle it here.)
Above Right: Jason Munn’s 2008 poster for the band, The National>.
Both illustrators use flat silhouettes of regularly spaced bottles. In Munday’s pattern, the blue bottle shapes are meant to also represent water drops. These bottle shapes are flat, but so variable in size as to suggest perspective.
The bottles in Munn’s pattern uniform in size and shape, but alternated in right-side-up and up-side-down rows—something that was also true in one of Barry Rosenthal’s photos that we looked at yesterday. This alternating arrangement also relates to some practical packaging considerations, as seen in the Ketchup photo on the right. (by Richard X. Thripp) In the context of a pattern, the idea of inverting some of the bottles serves a puzzle-solving desire to arrange the shapes as efficiently and with as little wasted space as possible. (Modernist idea: “allover” patterns)
3. “Synaptic Caguamas”
“Synaptic Caguamas” is a kinetic sculpture consisting of a motorized Mexican “cantina” bar table with 30 “Caguama”-sized beer bottles (1-litre each). The bottles spin on the table with patterns generated by cellular automata algorithms that simulate the neuronal connections in the brain. Every few minutes the bottles are reset automatically and seeded with new initial conditions for the algorithm, so that the movement patterns are never repeated.
I keep looking, but have not yet found a name to describe this pattern style. Typically, objects arranged in this manner are vertical or horizontal, rather than diagonal. This relates both to the efficiency of solutions to the packing problem of shapes within a rectangular space, as well as to the role of gravity and the acceptable orientations for a bottle at rest. Upright, up-side-down and sideways bottles do not stress us out. Diagonal bottles may be more dynamic but we don’t want to spill.
Lozano-Hemmer’s spinning bottles would seem to fly in the face of this rule, but the effect of the automatic “reset” when the bottles all swing back to their parallel positions is so gratifying that all is forgiven. Order has emerged from algorithmic disorder. (Modernist idea: letting forces other than the artist’s hand determine the creative outcome)
Disclaimer: I’m being very sloppy with my use of the term “modernism.” If I really wanted to do this up right, I would need to parse these bottle patterns in terms of “modern” & “post-modern.” And maybe even “re-modern.”
(Modernist fun fact: for some reason I actually own a book entitled Modern Cellular Automata. I bought it in the mid-1980s so maybe its more like “Vintage Cellular Automata” by now.)Randy Ludacer