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Paper Sculptures is an exercise by artist Richard Sweeney that tests the limits of folded paper as a medium for the creation of spatial situations. Sweeney pursues a ‘purely experimental’ trajectory with this work, utilizing the manipulation of two-dimensional sheets of paper to arrive at three-dimensional creations. Through a process of drawing, tracing, cutting, and folding, Sweeney is able to achieve incredibly complex sculptural forms. The artist begins with simple and methodical geometric manipulations that ultimately result in a complex array of abstracted polyhedral forms. Through the combination of repetitive geometries, curved lines, and modularity, Sweeney pushes paper into compelling quasi-architectural terrain, finding that paper, though flat and essentially limited to a two dimensional plane, can be articulated into a myriad of forms and functions. The limitless potential for variation inherent in the sheet of paper is determined by subtle changes in physical approach: the degree of each fold, location of cuts, as well as the orientation, sequencing, and execution of each manipulation.

Integral to the outcomes Sweeney arrives at is the relationship between the physical and the digital. This project began solely in the physical realm, embodying the embedded- and relatively uncontrollable- knack for variation this method provides, resulting in varied, though ultimately inconsistent forms. Through the digital manipulation in AutoCAD of Sweeney’s starting templates, the artist was able to nurture a certain sense of regularity with regards to the experimental approach taken to this project. That is, this project utilizes subtle, digital means, coupled with deliberate physical manipulations, to arrive at complex, iterative, and formally-compelling three dimensional shapes.

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