Twins is an installation by artist Lawrence Lek and industrial designer Onur Ozkaya. Two identical wings are captured at the moment of splitting apart. Floating out of the darkness, the suspended skins form a route into an artificial cave, where two projectors cast shadows that draw you closer inside.
I was invited to participate in ‘Illumination’, the inaugural show at Coldharbour Gallery in South London. I wanted to create a sculpture that you could inhabit, one that you could enter an illuminated world in which light and shadow were as important as structure. I also wanted to combine two contrasting natural forms – the playfulness of wings in flight, and the intimacy of a womb-like enclosure.
The project would combine earlier interests in biological skins and exoskeletons with a simple route or passage through an interior zone. This notion of creating an inhabitable sculpture would operate between our animal instinct to be immersed in nature, and our intellectual desire to create and control our environment.
I wanted the surfaces to behave like pieces of cloth, falling naturally into their final form. To achieve this, I worked together with industrial designer Onur Ozkaya to create a modular material system that could express the concept of the work.
Each wing is composed of identical elements lashed together at their edges in alternating rows to form an undulating surface. Each element is formed from a flat, arrow-shaped piece of birch plywood that has been bent into shape by pulling its corners together after a long bath in hot water. This system makes the wings behave like a fabric, and means that the final draped form of the twins is determined by its behaviour under gravity.
No three-dimensional modeling software was used in the design of the installation, as the nature of the surface resulted in a remarkable continuity between working models and full-scale structure. The nesting of identical components minimizes material wastage during fabrication, and also allows them to be flat-packed for transportation. The system is currently being developed further to assess its acoustic and structural properties.
The installation was featured at ‘Illumination’, the inaugural exhibition at Coldharbour Gallery in South London, curated by Aretha Campbell and Lucy Baxter.