NATUR - LOCHKARTEN
Nature is wild, unpredictable and ultimately beautiful. A punchcard is a stiff piece of paper that contains digital information represented by the presence or absence of holes in predetermined positions. It was an early system used to control textile looms and mechanical computers for input, and processing, it is a system to aid reproducing the same affect again and again thus mimicking what takes place naturally in the world around us such as when a spider weaves its web.
SPEEDING UP THE WORK OF NATURE
I utilize the Sculpture Studio as a laboratory to examine how things exist: I am exploring the ‘nature’ of various materials in a union of concept and process. My investigations manifest themselves through heat ‘n’ treat practices such as molding, melting, casting, forging, welding and fabricating. Metal is my ‘prima materia’, and I regard it as a living material, it breathes, oxidizes, and grows, emerging from the furnace, the forge and the mould … raw and elemental as it was originally raised from the depths of the earth.
The metal I utilized to make ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ is reclaimed scrap steel from a local scrap yard in Salem, Germany which had been used and most probably discarded by the building industry, some of it was from a demolition site as it was almost mangled beyond recognition. Originally the new steel had been shaped into standard stock sizes such as I Beam, Square, Round, Solid, Angeline, Rebar, Threaded Rod, and Pipe: these are manufactured in large industrial steel mills, using intense heat they are taken through a journey, once molten, stretched, shaped, twisted and bundled they are cooled and stacked into the many different but standard lengths and thicknesses. Much of this steel provides the foundation and structure of our built environment as we experience it today such as roads, buildings and bridges.
Steel is processed Iron, Iron is a natural material found in the form of Iron Ore buried deep within the earth. The ore is basically rock with veins of iron, it is mined and then in the belly heat of a furnace at 2400 F the rock begins to bleed out the liquid iron which will produce ingots of pig iron. The pig iron ingots are melted down again and used to make Steel for constructing and welding as well as Grey Iron for melting and casting. As well as pig iron, recycled scrap iron is also used.
Using the scaled down industrial process of heat forging with a power hammer the reclaimed steel from the Salem scrap yard was yet again transformed as I worked it with the element of fire one more time.
OUR GREATEST ENGINEER
Taking inspiration from the reoccurring structures and forms observed in nature : I designed modules in the form of a six spoked wheel, creating a hexagon : with my parameters set each module could be made in the same manner to the next similar to the concept of the punchcard system. Through the union of concept and process I began with the random selection of steel stock for each spoke, unique hexagons resulted much like the patterns of a snowflake.
FORGING AND CASTING
I measured and cut with the best precision possible each section of steel into the desired length. At this juncture all of the spokes started out the same length. The end of each spoke was heated in the forge to temperatures between 800 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, once ‘cherry red’ the spoke was removed and put under the power hammer in anticipation of being compacted and flattened. The power hammer is a mechanical forging hammer that uses a non-muscular source of power to raise the hammer ready for striking; in this case the power hammer speed is controlled by using a foot pedal. Once the hot steel is removed from the forge and placed under the hammer I control the flattening and stretching of the spoke end but there is an element of nature at play. Fluctuations in the temperature of the forge, variances in the thickness of the metal and the speed of my actions as I twisted and pulled the length of steel in conjunction with the hammering action of the machinery resulted in eccentricities, of which I anticipated and intentionally manipulated.
Through this heat ‘n’ treat process the industrial steel stock sections began to revert back to their original state of belonging to the earth, the recognizable shape of the standard stock IBeams and Rebar started to disappear revealing evidence of the fires that formed it.
The work articulates a value towards natural phenomena and a fascination for Iron’s historical virtue as the plastic of the Industrial Revolution. Investigating the ‘plasticity’ of Iron, the twisted industrial forms in ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ alludes to architectural wrought iron as well as the geodesic dome but rather my endeavor here is to capture our imagination in the environment in which we exist.
International Sculptor Coral Penelope Lambert studied at Central School of Art, London, Canterbury College of Art, Kent and received her MFA in Sculpture from Manchester in 1990. Specializing in cast metal sculpture as an International Research Fellow Artist at the University of Minnesota from 95 -98. She is currently Head Professor of Sculpture and Director of the National Casting Centre Foundry at Alfred University, New York, USA.
Portrait photo by Ronnie Farley
As a recent recipient of the Gottlieb Foundation Award and The Joan Mitchell Grant I am recognized for working in cast iron as well as large scale outdoor pieces, exhibitions include: ‘The Avant Garden’ at The Barbican Center, London, Franconia Sculpture Park, MN, ‘Convergence’ in Providence, ‘Grounds For Sculpture’, NJ, ‘Pier Walk’, Chicago, ‘Atmosferric’ Salem Art Works, NY, Pirrkala in Finland, Huian China, The National Metals Museum, Memphis, ‘Nature Rules’, Governors Island, NY and ‘IronStone’ at Kidwelly Castle, Wales.
SALEM TO SALEM
The life size working model of ‘Natur-Lochkarten’ was produced in residence at Salem Castle Blacksmiths Forge during the Salem 2 Salem Symposium 2010. A maquette, video and stills will remain at the Castle with the Sculpture.