The Sixth Order installation by Michael Hansmeyer opens at the Gwangju Design Biennale 2011. The installation engages the main theme of the Biennale ‘dogadobisando’ (design is design is not design) by presenting not a designed object, but instead proposing the design of a process to generate objects.
The Sixth Order involves the development a column order based on subdivision processes. It explores how a procedural approach to form can define and embellish this column order with an elaborate system of ornament. This approach inherently shifts the focus from a single object to a family of objects: endless permutations of a theme can be generated. For the Gwangju Biennale, a single process was used to generate four individual columns. The resulting columns have not a single surface or motif in common, yet due to their shared constituent process, they form a coherent group.
When entering the exhibition room, the viewer at first perceives sixteen columns. This effect, created by the use of two floor-to-ceiling mirrors on adjoining walls, is intentionally accentuated by the columns’ design. Thus the columns are symmetrical along only a single axis, and they have a different appearance when seen from the front or the back. In effect, two column permutations are united in a single column – with eight virtual models forming the four physical objects.
While the procedural approach to design enables this multiplicity of output, it also expands the solution space on the level of the single object. It thus allows the creation of objects that are otherwise undrawable – and perhaps even unimaginable – in terms of their detail and complexity.