Flake by Neil ForrestFlake by Neil ForrestFlake by Neil Forrest

Flake, developed for the Denver Art Museum, comprises multiple long and arching red slivers. The flake shapes derive from residual solids made by ants boring into tree cellulose, but I imagine them as the primordial arabesque: the beautiful warp of space, described equally by the theoretical physics or the mosque ceiling. This is decoration that lifts away from fixed surfaces, metastasizing and drifting down as a physical body.

Each flake is of two elements: the long and concave plane of smooth clay stiffened by an array of cells on the back. The array of 800 ellipsoid bricks (produced using a RAM press), abstracted from insect hive cells, laminate and lend rigidity to an otherwise impossibly thin and vulnerable slab, the longest of which is 9 feet.

The flake silhouettes are interpretations of actual wood flakes I extracted from weakened spruce trunks. The fragile wood ones were simply scanned and these graphic iterations were amplified by orders of magnitude as large templates. Wanting to place the viewer within a bowl or perhaps a small amphitheater, the installation demanded a new geometry - a torus was elected as organizing mechanism. The double curve of each flake was therefore the whole curve of the installation, interrupted by the same spaces as happened within the tree itself during the insect assault.

Neil Forrest

The concept and design of the Flake installation is by Neil Forrest. Architect Yusef Denis assisted in final designs of flake variants and preparation of large plywood/plaster mold and individual cell. Greg Sims refined cell drawings for rapid prototyping. Andy Brayman managed the project, wired kilns, made molds and devised many systems to handle the unusual requirements of a large-scale project in ceramics, making a remarkably creative work environment. Dave Fredrickson designed a unique and flexible kiln to accommodate the problematic of especially long clay objects. Many assistants in Canada and United States helped realize the project. Neil Forrest worked side-by-side with Andy Brayman at his Matter Factory to realize this project.