10 Nov


Over fifty members of the Occidental College community, organized by Prof. Jim Brown of the Math Dept., came together (Friday, 2023 Nov 10) to construct a Sierpinski-style fractal based on the regular octahedron. You can read more about it in the The Occidental weekly newspaper; more details will be posted here as time permits. But here’s the completed structure:

This construction event closed with a dramatic denouement. Studio Infinity had recommended an ambitious plan to support the resulting 17-foot-tall structure on a single vertex of the outermost octahedron, facilitated by the custom wooden cradle (fabricated by Pablo and Ricardo Lopez) that you can make out at the bottom center of the photo. This scheme worked perfectly through the third iteration of construction (out of four doublings of the size of the structure). But then:

This sculpture was just on the edge of stability — the structure was self-supporting up until the very final module, and the team was able to lift and carry it to place it atop that final module. However, once those lowest connections were made, the torque on them proved too great for the tolerances of the system being used.

The upshot is that if Studio Infinity leads another build of this intriguing fractal, it can be placed on one of its faces, rather than on a vertex, and it will remain stable. That feeling of real-time experimentation is one of the things that makes public sculpture-raising like this so exciting!