For Sculpture Milwaukee, our piece, Skew, is a sculptural interpretation of one of these failing structures. Using the wind-downed pine, we will utilize traditional timber framing techniques to construct a half-scale shed that is severely leaning in two directions. Placed on a base that leans similarly, the result is an uncanny distortion of a familiar form. This distortion, however, is not due to failing joinery or dilapidation, but is instead carefully and sturdily constructed in this configuration. Timbers are parallelogram in section and visible joinery is distorted according to the skewed geometry of the structure. We have been fascinated for some time by the geometry of failing buildings and structures, which is exhibited most demonstrably in the neglected farmsteads of the rural Midwest, where partial ruins of barns and outbuildings are a familiar sight. Succumbing to time and the forces of nature, wooden structures lean, sag, and buckle, creating new geometries that contradict their original intended forms. The results are sometimes comical, sometimes bizarre, and always infused with the emotional resonance of a lost way of life.
The alteration is, in fact, digital in origin – it was first laid out using 3-D modeling software, and digital tools were used to skew the structure in multiple directions. The resulting deformations have a distinctly digital feel that is alien to our normal physical environment. Translating this digital language to age-old methods of rough, hand-built construction, the result is an uncanny collision of past and future that is both familiar and unsettling.