Looped Matter: From pliable line to soft form

The pliable line is bendable, flexible, loopable: it is indeterminate. However, once the line loops upon itself, interconnected associations yield determinacy at the scale of the pattern. The pattern can be understood as a code, or set of operations, which program the path of the line - each loop representing one bit of data. The code operates between the micro and the macro or the idiosyncrasy of a loop and the totality of its formal composition. It gains potency as a language which bridges the physical and the digital by compressing topological descriptions of form into a set of operations.

If we initiate design at the scale of the line, creating the flows of the very material assembly from which we build, can a new range of forms emerge?

Soft form most obviously evokes visual characteristics - smooth, curvaceous, supple, free of hardness. However, it may also suggest a tendency in the material system - flexible, pliable, lightweight, responsive. Caught between the pliable line and provocations of soft form, Looped Matter is a catalog of ideas and possibilities. It explores the potentials of a design process initiated at the scale of a material’s underlying composition. The resulting collection of artifacts categorized into four scales - sample, shape, form, and speculate - uses the technique of knitting to steer the pliable line between ornament and object to explore a new materialization of soft forms.

Sample: At the most fundamental level, the knit material assembly is a single pliant line, looping upon itself to form a multitude of characteristics with embedded flows.

Shape: The path of the pliant line is precisely coordinated allowing the knit textile to drop from the machine in one shaped piece eliminating the need for complex cutting and seaming.

Form: Integrated with structural members, the shaped knit assembly produces volumetric forms. Seamed along a single edge and pulled taut, simple conic geometries transform into doubly curved forms.

Speculate: The pliant line operates at many scales shaping the global form and embedding details such as relief, aperture, pattern, and color. The resulting projections emerge from the intrinsic affordances of looped matter.

year: 2016
location: Banvard Gallery| Knowlton School of Architecture; Columbus, OH
materials: cotton thread, bond paper, birch plywood, cork, mirrored acrylic

designer: Carrie McKnelly
project team: Jonathan Schaefer, Enio Dajko, Abdelrahman El Zamly
install team: Santiago Alvarez, Valentine Catapano, Molly Clarke, Benjamin Koontz, Ruoxi Li, Thomas Mason, Ndede Misumi, Tammy Monnin, Emily Nau, Kaley Overstreet, Ryan Sampson, Kiernan Smith, Renee Saavedra , Alexandra Oetzel, and Mason Johnson
exhibition graphic design: Minsun Eo Studio New York
photography: Philip Arnold
acknowledgements: Looped Matter was funded by the Howard E. LeFevre '29 Emerging Practitioner Fellowship