Prototyping 0

Creating immersive worlds through illustration and craft

1) Background

Pietro Ruffo is a contemporary artist based in Rome, Italy. Pietro’s works deal with issues concerning the nature of freedom and addresses a wide range of social, moral and political issues. He works in several mediums including drawing, painting, digital photography and video, creating intricate and meticulously detailed objects which demand an intense manual working process.

Han Yang worked with Pietro between January – May 2011, as a prototyper, illustrator and documenter of Pietro’s artwork. Various other roles included digital rendering, model making, physical set-up and supervision of fabrication at the various exhibitions and installations. The 2011 Venice Biennale was the major show that Han Yang worked on, along with creating artworks for Italy’s 150th Anniversary of Unification, the Galerie Di Meo Exhibition in Paris and the Armory Show in New York. 

2) The Project

The main project during that tenure was ‘Negative Liberty’, for the 2011 Venice Biennale. It was exhibited at Italy’s oldest cafe, Caffe Florian, in Venice, Italy. The Chinese Coffee Room was transformed into a forest of graphite (pencil-drawn panels) animated by hundreds of origami dragonflies (cut into the paper as is customary Ruffo). In one of the panels there is a quotation from a poet dear to Pietro: a discourse on freedom by Khalil Gibran (the excerpt is from the poem, The Prophet).

3) Prototyping

Prototypes were built digitally and tested using miniature paper cut-outs of the room dimensions. Pictures of trees were pasted on to ensure an accurate perspective of a person lying in a park, looking up towards the sky and the all encompassing tree line. Each prototype had trees repositioned and took in practical factors such as entrances of the cafe, seating plans and how direct sunlight would affect the experience of viewing the artwork. The physical artwork was then digitally imported to lay out the composition of the trees in detail.

Numerous dragonfly origami designs were made, ensuring structural rigidity and elegant, flowing lines when the dragonflies are pinned onto the illustrations. The thickness of the paper was also taken into consideration, with thinner paper bringing out the minute details of the folds.

With the composition and dragonfly template laid out, work began on projecting the images onto room-sized rolls of paper for rendering. Since the illustrations were done on individual floor-to-ceiling panels, improvements were made to the layout and quality of pinning dragonflies with subsequent panels.


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