The dichotomy between light and darkness is probably the oldest and most central theme in every art form. It forms the conflict in much of literature and film, and it’s literally what photography is made of. The work of painters revolves around the contrast and interplay between light, darkness, and the myriad tones in between. Light and darkness are what drive the art of Se Yoon Park, a designer, architect and artist whose latest work, “Light, Darkness and the Tree” uses 3D printing to explore not only the appearance of darkness and light, but the idea of them and the equally important roles they play in sustaining life.
South Korean native Park moved to New York in 2006 to get his Master’s degree in Architecture from Columbia University. Since then, he has worked for prominent architectural firms around the world, including the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE), and REX Architecture. He found that architecture, however, wasn’t satisfying his need for creative expression, so in 2012 he began to work as an independent designer out of a small gallery in Brooklyn.
At that time, he also began to work on “Light, Darkness, and the Tree,” a series of 3D printed trees that, through subtle gradations of color, shadows, and illumination, explore the balance and transition between light and darkness – and the necessity of them both – in his own life as well as in nature.
“My exploration through these sculptures…always taught me the value of light and darkness in my life,” says Park. “Light is going to be changed to darkness, darkness is going to be changed to light. The tree needs both to survive. The tree is rooted in the darkness, and it’s…reaching for the light.”
Park gained a lot of experience and knowledge in 3D design and printing throughout his architectural career, and turned to the technology for “Light, Darkness and the Tree.” After sketching out his ideas and settling on 3D printing as a medium, he modeled his designs in Rhino.
“The biggest challenge was catering for the necessary margin of error while retaining a shape precision that was essential to the structural integrity of the overall sculpture,” he says.
He used PLA and ABS to prototype his trees, but turned to i.materialise and their polyamide material for the final sculptures. The material, a fine, granular powder designed for laser sintering, offers lightweight strength as well as porosity, which gave Park the ability to easily assemble the 3D printed parts into larger sculptures, as well as to dye them with a variety of methods and colors. In addition, the material’s translucency enabled him to create glowing branches by placing electric lights inside the hollow prints.
The result, a large installation of 3D printed trees currently on exhibit at Park’s gallery, is beautiful. Park’s architectural background is evident in the precise, geometric angles of the trees, while his vision of light and darkness is evoked in both subtle and dramatic ways, through the sculptures themselves as well as carefully orchestrated lighting in the gallery. Throughout the three-year project, Park came to realize the value of 3D printing in his art, and plans to continue using it alongside more traditional crafting methods.
“Compared to traditional casting methods, 3D printing provides the benefit of being more accurate, free from shrinking issues, and multiple design materials,” he says.“While I work with traditional casting and fabrication methods, I am thankful for the contributions 3D printing has made to my design and process, and believe the combination of these methods is the way forward. Through 3D printing, I was able to manifest my ideas tangibly, and i.materialise has aided me on my journey to capture light and darkness. With the help of i.materialise, I am now able to communicate my message to the people through my sculptures.”
You can learn more about Park’s artistic vision below:[Source: i.materialise / Images: Se Yoon Park]
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