Infoscience

Conference paper

"The Unbearable Lightness of the Cube": Using SMA to Express Lightness, Movement and Memory in Sculptures

Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) have been used in sculptures for quite some time. But only very few of these sculptures have gone on to earn wide recognition, mainly because the working conditions of the SMA must be carefully respected when sculptures are made. If they are not, the sculpture is bound to fail after a short time. Swiss artist Etienne Krahenbuhl was able to avoid such failure in his sculptures by maintaining a strong collaboration with Rolf Gotthardt, physicist at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne). In his sculptures, the apparently low modulus of super-elastic material permits very smooth movement, and in a few cases the shape memory effect allows unexpected changes. In this paper, some of the results of a 9-year collaboration between the physicist and the sculptor will be shown.

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