Sawako Kajima, Panagiotis Michalatos: Tensor Shades

  • ©2008, Sawako Kajima and Panagiotis Michalatos



    Tensor Shades


Creation Year:



Artist Statement:

    The Tensor Shades are light shades generated by the interrogation of structural information (stress tensor field) and desired lightinginformation (inverse illumination field). The project explores a process that preconditions the design space by combining these two types of spatial information in order to create a design that maintains structural integrity and formal consistency.

    The inspiration for this project comes from our frequent professional observation of a disjunction in the relationships between design intentions, geometry, and structural considerations. This is partly a result of the division of disciplines within the design and construction industry, and reinforcement of such divisions by the employed methods and software tools. Such tools allow designers to create more complex forms than previous technologies could support, yet they treat the design space as homogeneous and isotropic Cartesian space. As a consequence, operations on a designed object tend to disregard its intrinsic properties and behavior, making integration and negotiation of concerns difficult.

    To overcome this problem, we have focused on the construction and interrogation of tensor fields that endow the design space with varying properties. Before developing a parametric model, we treat the ambient space itself as a generalized parameterization whose properties will affect and enrich the embedded objects. In effect, the form is the interpretation of the field that encompasses a multitude of concerns related to the particular design.

    SIGGRAPH 2008 attendees are invited to interact with a simplified version of the software tool developed for designing the Tensor Shades. The stress tensor field is extracted from the results of finite-element analysis of the volume material with given support and loading conditions. The inverse illumination field is left for the users to define. Each light shade is paired to one surface (wall, floor, or tabletop), on which users can designate their desired light intensities, which are projected back to the light through an inverse illumination process. The introduction of these fields allows for treatment of space as non-homogeneous and non-isotropic, and establishes a spatial condition that is variable and multi-dimensional. This complex spatial information is represented in various forms for the user to explore and interrogate – a process parallel to that of designers reaching a well-integrated design solution for the Tensor Shades.