GSD Lecturer Merges Art and Science in Cambridge Installation

Visitors can transform four large metal sculptures in Chuck Hoberman’s 10°, a new exhibit at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge.

Hoberman, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Design, created the works after receiving an invitation from David A. Edwards, the founder of Le Laboratoire and a professor at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Edwards and Hoberman conceptualized 10° as an experiment, as well as an exhibit.

“We do experiments, in general—we alternate pretty much between contemporary art and design,” Edwards said. “We invite leading artists and designers to frontiers of science and knowledge where intuition and cultural exchange have high value and is very connected with where the world’s going.”

Visitors can manipulate each of the four structures in the gallery by pressing on large levers. The sculptures resemble origami in their geometric design and their transformable shape.

“I hope that the experience of people visiting the exhibit is really unlike anything that they’ve ever experienced before,” Hoberman said. “Things that are engaging and accessible [don’t] at all contradict the depth of the intellectual content and the research component.”

Edwards said the exhibit reflects broader trends in engineering and architecture of works inspired by nature, and the use of organic forms and materials.

“One of the things... that has been fascinating in engineering, architecture, and design in the last 10 years is the role of function in design as opposed to simply form,” Edwards said.

Hoberman is the namesake of isokinetic sculptures such as the Hoberman Sphere and the Hoberman Arch, displayed in Salt Lake City, Utah, during the 2002 Winter Olympics. He thinks of his works as “living systems” with which viewers can interact.

“The sculptures [at the exhibit] are offering something that’s a very unusual experience, where you can interact with something that is both multiples of your own body size and your own weight, and yet you can make them transform in size and shape through space with kind of a light touch,” Hoberman said. “It’s a very unusual experience and one that points to a lot of other fascinating possibilities for future technologies as well.”

The installation runs Sept. 29 to Jan. 6 at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge. It is partially funded by the GSD, and admission is free.