Skip

The Cubic Permutations of Curtis Steiner
December 21, 2008 4:40 PM   Subscribe

Curtis Steiner is a Seattle businessman and artist who operates a local gift shop. Both his home and his shop have garnered positive press, but his greatest artistic achievement may be his piece entitled 1,000 blocks, which explores the permutations of the six facets of the cube.
posted by Tube (30 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
The block slide show is fantastic. Many thanks for this.
posted by podwarrior at 4:52 PM on December 21, 2008


Yeah, agreed on the slideshow. Hits the pixel-art part of my brain just right—the range of expressiveness between the various patterns is really wonderful. Can't imagine how long it took him to go through all of those, considering it had to involve some significant fraction of 100,000 individual block manipulations.

I suppose there might be more information available at the exhibit itself, but does he have any details available on line for how he went about producing the blocks in the first place?
posted by cortex at 4:56 PM on December 21, 2008


beautiful

I want a wall of these, on micro servos, that slowly change during the course of the day. granted the images would be limited, as you could only use 4 of the 6 sides (two sides needed to be used for the actuators).

Similar to this.

Also, does anyone know the aptitude / IQ test that uses similar blocks and then gives the individual an image and they have to recreate it by arranging the blocks to match it? I remember having to take that test as a kid a few times, and it was my favorite part of the process.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:59 PM on December 21, 2008


Also, he needs to show a timelapse "how he made each image" video also, to go along with it.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:00 PM on December 21, 2008


Oh, foolish man, included an address on his site...

Off to write a letter now.

This was pretty cool regardless. Am I a bad man for wanting another time cube guy?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:21 PM on December 21, 2008


Cellular automata
posted by TorontoSandy at 5:23 PM on December 21, 2008


granted the images would be limited, as you could only use 4 of the 6 sides (two sides needed to be used for the actuators).

I was thinking the same thing but with enough cleverness you could get full cubes I would think, ie. a single effector that rotated the thousand blocks individually as needed. One block every 10 seconds would take an hour and a half to make a new image. Or 20 effectors could scan row-wise in under a minute.
posted by troy at 5:26 PM on December 21, 2008


^ 10 minutes.
posted by troy at 5:27 PM on December 21, 2008


Am I a bad man for wanting another time cube guy?

+

Cellular automata

=

http://www.wolframscience.com/

posted by troy at 5:29 PM on December 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aw, Wolfram's way too lucid to be Time Cube. His enormous willingness to oversell the meaningfulness of his work aside, his book is actually a fun and interesting read.
posted by cortex at 5:40 PM on December 21, 2008


I was ready to hate it, and I did when I saw the web site, and didn't see anything. Then I heard a thump, and up in the corner was a teeny little window, which when expanded showed the slide show. Then I didn't hate it any more. Very very cool.
posted by Eekacat at 5:43 PM on December 21, 2008


I always enjoy messing with this exhibit when I visit SAM (and seeing what other people have done with it).
posted by hattifattener at 5:52 PM on December 21, 2008


> I was thinking the same thing but with enough cleverness you could get full cubes I would think, ie. a single effector that rotated the thousand blocks individually as needed.

Thinking about it now, if you put a ball bearing inside each cube, you could setup individual electro magnets into the backing wall to hold it in place, and use a two degrees of movement plotter arm thing with it's own magnet to retrieve individual cubes, pull them from the wall (the wall magnet powers off), rotate the cube for the right surface, could just use simple image optical detection (would only need to recognize the color of 4 quadrants of the image) to determine which way the cube is orientated, place it back on the wall, and the wall magnet picks it back up again.

...

I need some lego mindstorms.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:57 PM on December 21, 2008


Thanks for these.
posted by pointilist at 6:00 PM on December 21, 2008


That is beautiful. Thank you much.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:09 PM on December 21, 2008


(two sides needed to be used for the actuators)

Nope. Put the actuators on opposite corners!
posted by erniepan at 6:09 PM on December 21, 2008


Beautiful.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:13 PM on December 21, 2008


It's so nice to see Curtis getting some publicity. He's been a hidden treasure in Ballard for a while now. I would recommend his place to my friends, but it was really hard to say what exactly you would find there. "Just go."

For a while, the only sign on his door indicating that it was a business was his card taped to the door, at about waist level. And the print on his card is a very pale ivory on white, so you had to squint to see the writing. But there was a giant wooden head of Buddha from Thailand in the window, so at least you could tell people to look for that. Now it has been sold, so you have to go by the actual address, and the numbers are really hard to see.

When you walk in, it seems at first that there is nothing there. After a few minutes, you begin to become aware of details, start looking through all the drawers, and then you realize you're surrounded by a forest of intricacy.
posted by Araucaria at 6:37 PM on December 21, 2008


This made me insanely happy. Thank you.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:52 PM on December 21, 2008


cortex, I don't know if he made the blocks himself. But there are plenty of woodwork artists studios around Seattle, so he could have subcontracted the actual work. The amazing thing is his creativity.

And note that there are 18 different distinct permutations for each block, so there are 18^1000 = 10^1255 different possible pictures you could make with them in a 20 x 50 array. I don't think he touched the barest fraction of the possibilities. That's why you'd order a set like that in the first place — there's practically no limit to what you can come up with.
posted by Araucaria at 6:56 PM on December 21, 2008


Anyone know the name of the song played behind the slideshow? It's haunting.
posted by notsnot at 6:57 PM on December 21, 2008


*stabs Flash photo art sites in the face*

Cool!
posted by DU at 6:58 PM on December 21, 2008


I don't normally go for this hippy dippy artsy shit. But this made me pause. Then I went back to being an asshat. Thanks.
posted by dawdle at 6:58 PM on December 21, 2008


And note that there are 18 different distinct permutations for each block, so there are 18^1000 = 10^1255 different possible pictures you could make with them in a 20 x 50 array.

Yeah, no, I'm really attracted to the collection of patterns in part because of the range he shows between very simple tessellations all the way up to almost brush-and-ink full-frame impressionism. The tree trunks, the weeping willow, the two open eyes, all juxtaposed against simple patterns of circles or checkers—it really sells that sort of space-of-possibilities well in a relatively tiny handful of examples.

Symmetry and scale in the intersection between math and art is one of those subjects that fascinates me—I was always more compelled by geometry than by calculus in school, for example. I like how cleanly this intersects those two spheres, and al the ideas about reductive and recursive patterns it dredges up while at the same time being just plain attractive block art.

And the reference to cellular automata above is very apt, actually, in this sense, as much as it might seem a little bit like a non sequitur. The complicated, chaotic-but-artful space between very simple patterns/cycles (checkers, lattices of dots) and apparent randomness (largely but not entirely excluded from the photos in Steiner's photo set) is really interesting stuff.
posted by cortex at 7:17 PM on December 21, 2008


Just to save anyone else the time of looking it up as I did, the background song is 'Paris, Texas' by 'Gotan Project'. Thanks for the post Tube - It's wonderful.
posted by Bugg at 12:45 AM on December 22, 2008


(ya know, I've heard some Gotan Project, and I should have recognized the style.)
posted by notsnot at 5:53 AM on December 22, 2008


1,000 Blocks totally blew the top of my head off, but the cards and jewelry did nothing for me whatsoever. It's disappointing, because I can't buy 1,000 Blocks, and the stuff I can buy didn't interest me.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:10 AM on December 22, 2008


Huh. The Gotan Project song is actually a cover of Ry Cooder's music from the eponymous film.
posted by signal at 11:35 AM on December 22, 2008


Lovely. Is there some kind of software widget that would let you simulate the patterns so you could try stuff out before turning 1000 blocks by hand? Want.

That would be a fun widget for quilters, or people who make mosaics or parquetry woodwork. Seriously, if anybody knows of free or cheap software that does this, please post a link. Thanks!
posted by Quietgal at 12:38 PM on December 22, 2008


Wow, fantastic. I've never heard of him before and now I'm enthralled.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2008


« Older An die freude!   |   High Craftibility: crafting... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post