March 27, 2023

Jonty Hurwitz – I’d call him a Sculptormatician, but Google says there’s no such word

Google doesn’t agree that there is such as word as a Sculptormatician, so I’ll just have to say that Jonty Hurwitz creates sculptures mathematically. When he needs new materials he doesn’t pop down to the art supplies shop and get a few more tubes of yellow ochre and a stick of charcoal. New technology is his medium.

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Without a powerful computer his unusual anamorphic creations could not exist. Even five years ago the technology did not exist to create the works he produces. The Flaneur met him at the Savoy where he is artist in residence and has created an artwork for the Kaspar’s restaurant.

Hurwitz was only given the Savoy commission two months ago and he pointed out the paradox between the story of Kaspar – superstition pure and simple – and the advanced technology he had used to create his Kaspar-inspired work of art, involving spatial scanning, 3D printers, advanced chemistry and complex mathematics.

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Kaspar by Jonty Hurwitz, The Savoy

Having won the commission to create a work based on Kaspar and his accompanying superstition, Hurtwitz, the scientific artist turned to the irrational – the ‘magic number’, pi. The sculpture that appears to depict Kaspar the cat is also a visual understanding of pi, with Hurwitz trying to communicate the irrationality of superstition by using pi as a metaphor. Describing his working methods he said that ‘this sculpture isn’t crafted by hand, it is crafted by advanced science.’ We wanted a bit more detail…

Could you give a brief run-through of how you get to that finished work? Do you start with the image you are trying to end up with?

I started with [the statue of] Kaspar. Then I rented an incredible 3D scanner and literally scanned him. Then I take the model into digital clay. I then use mathematical software, 3D software to manipulate it basically using processing power.

Have you written that software or is it software anyone could buy?

I use film making software. Then do all of the manipulations, distortions, etc and eventually get it into a model that can go onto a 3D printer. The problem is that 3D printers can’t handle that kind of scale, so then it goes into the engineering software to cut it up into four or five pieces that have to be joined together and sanded.

So you join those by hand?

After the prints comes the manual joining of the pieces together. It’s like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.

How many pieces is Kaspar made of?

Six pieces. What’s amazing is the processing power required to do these things in 3D is quite remarkable. Kaspar could not have existed five years ago.

What sort of computer do you use?

I just use a Macbook Pro and a render farm.

How does the process continue?

Next the piece gets resined to seal it. They are plated and coated in different ways. Kaspar uses car technology. I found the manufacturers who do the inside of car lights. So it’s vast car technology as well. That’s how the cat is made. The chrome cylinder is a different set of manufacturers. It has to be perfectly round so those are aircraft technology manufacturers. Then there’s another bunch that electrically grow chrome. It’s a big engineering project.

So they’re not cheap products to make?!

No they’re not. They cost so much to make.

Are they editions?

They are generally editions of five. One just doesn’t justify it. I like five.

Finally, what has it been like living at The Savoy

Heaven. I haven’t been here full time, but on and off for two months. It’s been amazing. A once in a lifetime experience.

For more information about Jonty Hurwitz’s work visit his website.

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