Works in Progress - Winter 2011

Thinking Outside the Vase

By Emily Ochoa | June 24, 2013


Rationalists that we are, most of us consider flower vases to be containers. Artist Fung Kwok Pan, however, blurs the line between the container and the contained. Fung’s so-called fluid vases represent the process of pouring, and the resulting objects showcase beautiful flows and splashes.

Fluid vases were born out of a desire to “translate actions which are commonly associated with objects into the actual object itself,” Fung says. He begins with a high-speed camera, photographing water being poured into a container. With this footage as his model, he uses animation software to create a “3-D mesh” of this process that can be exported to a computer-aided design program. The software enables him to create a physical blueprint of a single step in the pouring process, and he selects two of the best such blueprints to be turned into physical objects by a 3-D printing company.

The printing process, known as selective laser sintering, is done one horizontal layer at a time. A fine powder is spread on the production bed, and a moving laser hardens portions of the powered in accordance with the “map” provided by that layer of the 3-D model. Once each layer hardens, the powder is spread over the top so that another layer can be created.

Fung, a Singaporean, plans to post his process on the Web so that customers can design their own vases. “Imprinting the making story on my works” will give the user a greater sense of the object, he says—away from “the retail glitter surrounding our products today.”

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