Scaling is a very powerful tool to stretch our perspective and dissolve time and space. It allows us to understand deeper connections between materials, processes, perspectives and timeframes. We can expand our perception of any given object just by imagining or quietly observing any point in space or time.
Everything contains an infinite amount of information. What we can see is just a fraction (a minuscule one) of all the worlds contained in any given piece of matter at any given moment. Looking at this perspective that we call reality, we have to be mindful of the limitations we might encounter.
This limitation in perceiving the time and space we experience as human beings has also an unlimited power of expansion. We can navigate complexity by observing that everything we manipulate in the world might be connected to an infinite system that will also be affected.
On an end note: we are always a part of many other complex systems.
Scale and Simple Rules
What if we take 10 steps process and make it only 5 steps?
I actually was able to apply this thinking to a particular case at my work:
For the Grad Show (the biggest event of the year) we take 12 pictures of artworks of every one of the 150 students graduating this year. It was a total of around 1800 photos. Every single one with different colours and materials.
We usually take between 6 and 10 minutes, on a factory line-like process that allows us to go through every picture and edit it on Photoshop. This is between 6 and 10 edited photos and an hour. We needed a way to make it faster.
Starting with the question of scaling I was able to reduce and automate 5 critical points: instead of creating guides, we used proportional cropping. And we were able to automate all the resizing and portrait landscape sorting.
What would happen if instead of having a garden, we planted a whole forest inside the art school?
This thought gives a lot of inspiration on how to think about a 21st Century Art School. Isn’t nature the biggest kind of art? I think if we made an effort on bringing art and nature together it would be great not only for artists looking for inspiration but also for the community and the city as a whole.
Imagine going for a walk in the bush without leaving school!
And one last on scaling…
1 – Make a simple mark across the piece of paper.
2 – Blow it up x10
3 – Select a section approximately 10th of the blow-up.
4 – Copy it by hand onto a new piece of A4 paper
This exercise allowed me to access worlds that we might take for granted every day. Every painting that I have ever done hides vast worlds of possibilities within every brushstroke. What would happen if I zoomed in on every painting?
It sparked thoughts about micro-cosmos and macro-cosmos. We are a very limited consciousness waiting to be expanded. We can only see and perceive a small part of the whole, therefore, can we call what we see “reality”?
Maybe creativity lays always in the unknown places between the known.
Back cast and Future cast
1 – Consider the tools, technology and materials involved.
This is a McDonald’s promotional drinking glass (2022). I got it for the simple fact of getting a Big Mac, on the right day, at the right time.
It’s made of glass. The tools involving the creation of this glass might be sand (every glass comes from sand). The sand-melting facilities, the workers that put the melting sand into refined glass, the drying, the shining of the glass.
It involves the extraction of prime material, the processing technology, the skilled workers, the treating, the packaging, the shipping (this glass might have travelled in a shipping container from China), and many more steps.
2 – Working backwards, consider the object’s life in reverse time
A year ago this was probably already a glass. 10 years ago it must have been prime material (sand) ready to be processed. 100 years ago this must have been raw sand on a beach near the coast of China. 1000 years ago it must have been a rock, slowly disintegrating on the sea, and those sediments are my glass today.
3 – Future time process: where will it be
A year from now this glass will probably be broken, therefore it will be in a landfill somewhere in Australia. In 10 years it would still be there if they don’t invent some kind of technology that can make use of old glass. In 100 years it will probably still be there. In 1000 years it would have become sand again.
4 – Reflections
In many philosophies and religions, it is said, in one way or another, that we are part of the universe and we are coming back to it. In Christianity, there’s the quote “You were made from soil, and you will become soil again”.
If you think deeply about it, we are the food we eat and the water we drink. That food was once a plant or an animal, and that water might have been a glacier, the sea or a small river in a remote part of the world. And now that river is you.
This exercise made me think deeply about the interconnectedness of all life and how every process serves a purpose in the very dynamic movement of life.
Interactive powers of ten
This was a very powerful experience. At this stage, my perspective has changed so much that it can’t go back to what it was. In any particular brushstroke, there is a world of information waiting to be discovered. Perception is not only dependent on how we see but also on what and where we are when we see.
An acrylic painting brushstroke for an ant might be a hill, for a microbe an entire island. For me is an amalgam of colour pigments and glue.
For this exercise, I tried my best to magnify one of my own paintings:
It wasn’t even close to what I tried to achieve but hey, I aimed high! The following 3D sketch is a tridimensional scan by MOMA of the. “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. The approach you can get to this marvellous painting is absolutely incredible and it relates very closely to Eames Powers of Ten.
By scaling this painting we can get deeper into the force and style that made Van Gogh such an incredible painter. Scaling this painting has helped me discover by myself things that are not possible by studying a flat picture.