The Grid Reimagined —

The grid as a representation of the urban landscape in small and wearable objects.

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The Grid Reimagined is a practice-based research project. The practice-based research is contextualised in this dissertation through the fields of art history, urban planning, architecture, urban history, human geography, philosophy and digital technology. This research explored the constructed environments of the city in both the process of making the artworks and in the objects themselves.

Through a series of experiments, the research revealed four states of the city grid and interpreted these as jewellery and small objects. These states of the grid are: rigid and incising, protecting and containing, mutable and changeable, and dissolving and disintegrating. The trajectory of the research followed these forms as they were found in the city grid, and re-created and imagined them as jewellery objects. The research travelled from rigid orthogonal forms that control landscapes to fluid forms that conform to the human body, while all the time maintaining the underlying structure of the grid. The means of making, computer-aided design and 3D printing, themselves grid-based; remained constant as I explored the limits of materials and technology. My research reveals the relationship between artist, wearer, material, and object as adaptable and mutable.

A parallel interrogation of the controlled logic of the urban grid and the organic nature of human interaction was thread through the research. Commencing with an examination of the city grid as an organising and framing device, shaping human activity, I proceeded to explore ways in which human activity shapes the grid. In isolating and downsizing the forms of the city grid, I produced work of a human and wearable scale. Through duplicating, layering and distorting forms of the grid, the objects are abstracted from their origin, allowing an organic interaction with the wearer, while a trace of the source, that is, the rigid grid, remains as a gesture to its origins. The creative outcomes of my research reveal connections between the city and the digital grid.

This jewellery contributes to contemporary debates relating to the role of digital technologies in making, and the relationship between the maker and the machine. I conclude that it is only through letting go of any sense of separateness from the technology that the complexity of these relationships could be revealed.