ATEC Professor Reflects On Nasher XChange Installation

X (detail), computer rendering, Liz Larner, 2013
X (detail), computer rendering, Liz Larner, 2013

We come to know the world around us by building models. As children, we play with scale models of people, trains, ships, and houses. Modeling comes naturally to us. We all do it.

As we grow out of childhood, the models become more complex. To find a house to live in, we may visit a model house complete with a model kitchen. Models are objects that are found in most fields from the arts and humanities to mathematics and science.

Liz Laner
X, wooden model, Liz Larner, 2013

To mark its 10th anniversary, the Nasher Sculpture Center XChange Project has commissioned Liz Larner to create a sculpture that will be situated in the courtyard of the new Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building at The University of Texas at Dallas.

Two models of the sculpture are shown above. The one on the left is a computer rendering of the sculpture, and the one on the right is a wooden model. The final piece will be forged in metal. Artists use models as part of their activities. They represent discrete points of creativity along the way to producing a final artwork.

It is fitting that Larner’s sculpture is preceded by her models, since model design is one of the core activities of ATEC. ATEC faculty build shape models of human characters for computer games and animations. Faculty also build models of things that we cannot see, such as models of how things work, how sounds are created, how we craft stories, and how we represent our knowledge. As with Larner’s sculpture, these other models are designed along the way as we create new modes of collaboration and understanding.

Article by Professor Paul Fishwick

Distinguished Endowed Chair of Arts and Technology and Professor of Computer Science. Director of the Creative Automata Laboratory