The vertex, the common point at which two lines converge – or diverge – , is a primordial element in the graphic representation of all kinds of phenomena. It is first and foremost a graphic symbol, one that in its essence is the synthesis of an event. It marks the point where a road separates, where two rivers come together, where one plane ends and another begins, a change of direction, a fold, a dilemma posed by two possibilities, the branching out of growth and evolution, the cross-linking of a plane, the planar deconstruction of a volume, an itinerary for logical reasoning, computational structure, algorhythmic formulation…
All of these phenomena, along with our language and our thought, can be represented by means of a graphic system thanks to the invention of this most basic element. Even for showing a succession of events in time, such as those in a genealogical tree, the vertex has proven to be the ideal graphic tool.
In architecture, the classic vertex is the right angle. This was not always so, however; primitive cultures tended to prefer the curve, owing in all probability to the greater cohesiveness that the circuar shape offered and to the possibility of placing a dome or cone over it. As Vitruvius explained in his treatise on architecture, it was the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who consolidated a rectangle-based architecture. Ever since, architects have been subjected to the tyranny of the right angle. For the solution to myriad problems – from apportioning urban property lots and roads, to the economic maximization of space and of prefabricated elements, including the materials themselves (starting with bricks), architects have no choice but accept the practicality of the right angle as an indispensable, given element in their work. This has resulted in a loss of subjectivity, limited expressiveness, standardization and, in a word, normalization.
And yet this game, The Right Angle, gives us a glimpse of the disturbing consequences that can result from this element’s ‘normality’ and ‘objectivity’ when a right angle, instead of being a simple figure devoid of meaning, functions as a kind of accident. A subtle turn, a change in order, a moment’s disturbance, toying with its obvious function; any such action is enough to transform it into a new event – one with unforeseeable consequences.
The novelty of this magnetic Tangram is that it works with a third dimension and includes a new element: the need to strike a balance between the 7 pieces. The attraction between the tans (tangram pieces) is what ultimately sustains the figures and makes their handling so rewarding. As a result the upright figures can be seen and enjoyed from any perspective.
The tightrope walker balances over the precipice, risking life and limb as he walks over the thinnest of threads. They are not actors; rather, they relive what is essentially their life away from the wire. We are all tightrope walkers, though some more than others. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all balanced on the edge. That is what they are trying to tell us.
Ladders are the symbol of paradise lost, of that unattainable paradise. They seduce us because with them we can climb to the heights, much as we did in our previous life as primates. Climbing, forever upwards: it seems an aspiration in itself. Fruit, hanging from branches that are out of reach.
The game of the arches could also be called the game of strokes. Each piece is a line that can make drawings in the air, i.e. three-dimensional drawings. Drawing lines in the air and marveling at the forms that are created, pushing the boundaries of balance, interpreting the unexpected abstract and figurative forms that emerge... this is what the game consists of.