(Article published in the magazine Arthesis, july 2002)
Is it possible to create a piece of Art, which looks, seen from 6 different views, like a chessboard, using only 64 cubes?
That is what I asked myself, having visited a Minimal Art Exhibition in the Gemeente Museum in The Hague, seeing work from Sol LeWitt, an artist of the Minimal Art movement. I read about LeWitt, that in his vision, the idea behind the art work is much more important then the construction of Art itself.
But in my thoughts I saw my Chessboard "Cube" right in the middle of a roudabout, on the crossing of two regtangular ways. On your way to the roundabout you see in front of you the view of the Chessboard, while driving on the roundabout, you experience the anamorphose, an optical illusion, because the position of each cube to the other cubes changes permanently. Leaving the roundabout you see in your rear-view mirror again the chessboard, independently if you leave at 1/4, 1/2 or 3/4 of the full circle.
The Art work is also very attractive right in the middle of a square , with 4 well planned viewpoints.
I think it is a good idea, and a good result both. Compared with Sol LeWitt's point of view it is a win-win-situation.
Recently I became an user of the Program Rhinoceros. A computer program you can easily make 3-D models with. I tried to reach a result by trial and error. But I did not succeed.
In the best case in 4 views I had all the 64 cubes filling the chessboard square, but in 2 views there was a lack of 2 cubes.
You could easily say "Who cares, on a roundabout, there are only 4 views"? But I do not want to be catched by a overflying airplane.
If you look to the number of possibilities of the system you find out there are millions of possibilities within billions of impossibilities.
It is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
I have tried to find out how many. But I stopped.
Trying to solve the problem, I drew a chessboard with 8 x 8 squares, and I wrote in each square a number, representing the position of height in the cube. In every row and column you have to use the numbers 1 to 8. Each number just once.
The problem is related to the problem of a magic square, in which the sum of every row and column is equal. There are millions of solutions, so you can make a choice, searching for beauty, constructability, stability, etc. In the figure above you see one of my minimal chessboards, in which the 6 diagonals are in the outer shell. It is just one. There are more!!
It is not possible to make these pieces of Minimal Art with 32 white and 32 black cubes. To arrange the view of a chessboard each cube has 3 white and 3 black sides.
Thanks to Sol LeWitt for the inspiration.
If you know a good place for it, or your are interested in my designs? Mail me!