Commissioned for the exhibition Plots, Prints, and Projections at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Grain Figures is a play on our ability as humans to perceive meaning in seemingly random data.
Commissioned for the exhibition Plots, Prints, and Projections at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Grain Figures is a play on our ability as humans to perceive meaning in seemingly random data. The visible grain of a set of specific sheets of pine plywood guide the boundaries of surfaces, breaking them down into layers. Lines separating one surface from another suddenly go astray and wander along a meandering streak in the wood. The grain of the material – its structure and image – starts to influence the regulating geometries of surfaces. On a massing scale, select curves in the variation in grain produce a set of figurative elevations – a fragment of a room or façade, a silhouette of a rock, or a map of a terrain. A closer reading of the installation’s surface reveals local features in the grain. These features are a result of the lathing of the veneer in the plywood: A spiralling section of a log that slices through knots and defects. They often appear as recognizable forms or patterns, known in carpentry as grain figures. Grain figures are commonly referred to as, for example, bear claws, crowns, bird’s eyes, burls, curls, fiddle backs, and quilts. Ultimately, the design of the installation is about seeing and retracing figures from the plywood and projecting them back onto its surface. The grain of the wood becomes a drawing and an instruction for design. Plots, Prints and Projections was curated by Ulrika Karlsson and organised by Architects Sweden, The Swedish Institute, Folkhem and Svenskt Trä.