The Binary Strip

Lillian Anderson ArboretumWhen it comes to the Senior Individualized Project, sculptor Daedalian Derks ’12 thinks BIG—as in the kind of installation measured by “chain” (a forestry metric of 66 and one-half feet), as in a three-dimensional sculpture stronger than the urge to procreate. No kidding!

“The Binary Strip,” the fourth and largest sculpture in Derks’ SIP quartet (the other works are called “The Purple Pieces,” “Primary Shapes Weather Vane,” and “Fractal Reflections”), was installed for one week only at the Lillian Anderson Arboretum “Magnificent Pines” trail (see photo). Any longer and it might have affected spring mating rituals of local fauna (who says art’s not stronger than sex?). The piece includes 228 freely spinning black-and-white square panels made from aluminum roofing flashing and grouped into sections of eight, like the binary language in computer science. Conceived at first as a way to “see the wind,” the project evolved into a deeper exploration of the way art interacts with a specific natural setting.

Said Derks (an art-major- classics-minor convert from a history-and-art double major from, originally, a biology major): “I wanted to install it as a flat plane, but the swaying of the pines would have destroyed anything other than a catenary,” a long architectural curve that, in the case of “The Binary Strip,” changes its arc as the trees move. What an interesting way to learn architecture from the natural world! (Derks one day hopes to do graduate work in a program that combines art, culture, technology, and architecture.)

Still, for many, one week was too short to see the piece. If you missed it at the Arb, you can see it at the Light Fine Arts Building on Thursday, April 26, at 4 P.M. when Derks will share his entire SIP sculpture project during an artist presentation open to the public.