3D UNIT V: Scale and Context

Project VD

 Monument to a Belief System


studio fundamentals: To introduce the concepts of scale, proportion, and context.

concepts: To explore the ability of sculptural form to convey "meaning." To gain experience working as part of a collaborative "design team.".

technical: To introduce methods for moving easily between scales such as pattern making.


Project Overview Your challenge is to create a "site-specific" sculpture that expresses "an organized set of tenets (beliefs or principles) held by a group of two or more people."

Project References


Jenny Holzer, Charles Simonds, Walter De Maria, Andy Goldsworthy, Claes Oldenberg, Chartres Cathedral, Nazca lines, Christo, Isamu Noguchi, Statues of Easter Island, Stonehenge, Eero Saarinen, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, Walter De Maria, Jody Pinto, Agnes Denes, Harvey Fite, Arata Isosaki, Jean Tinguely, Simon Rodia, Borobudur, Hitching Post of the Sun, The Great Image of Buddha, Maya Lin, Cimetero Monumentale, Laurie Lundquist, Notes on Monuments.
Vocabulary scale, size, proportion, context, pattern, grid system, abstraction, "found object," belief system, design team



Required materials: A "found object" or a scale model of your own design. materials for final sculpture depends on your design. Use "dress maker paper" for patterns. Construction paper or white butcher paper for grids. Large pieces of corrugated cardboard useful for "blow ups" of planar forms.Latex house paint is cheap and works well as an undercoat... For organic forms, use materials such as cloth and sewing materials, styrofoam, construction adhesive or polyethelene sheeting and electric fan (for inflatable structures).


1. Before coming to class read the discussion Scale and Context for Unit V and the section on Collaboration in the Concepts section of the 3D matrix. Review the Project References above.


a) Select a "found object" or create an object of your own design that represents a "belief system" for two or more people. This object should hold meaning for you personally and should embody in its form the ideas of the belief system. These beliefs may embody any coherent system of thought or feeling--spiritual, political, conceptual, aesthetic, etc. Your object should be fully three-dimensional and lend itself to translation between scales.

b) Write a short description of your object.

c) Make a list of possible environments--contexts--that your object could be inserted into. How will the scale and character of your object relate to your chosen context?

d) In considering a context for your object reflect upon the original context in which you found the object. Will you affirm or deny its original use? How does the "meaning" or significance of the object change in different contexts? What materials and processes would best serve your idea?

e) Analyze the formal properties of your team's object(s). Evaluate the surface contours of your object(s). Could you imagine "peeling" one of your objects--like an orange--and flattening its "skin" into a two-dimensional shape? How could this flattened shape be used to replicate the object? Or, alternatively, imagine how key dimensions of your object(s) could be measured using a set of calipers. (See guidelines for moving between scales).

f) Using one of the techniques discussed in class (and on the web)--or a method of your own--alter the "scale" of the object. How does the impact of the object change with regard to a change in scale?

NOTE: You may choose to make your object smaller or larger; however, the "proportions" of the object must remain constant. What does it mean to make an object at "1/4 scale" for example? Or "4 times the size of the original?" Your decision regarding scale should be derived from your chosen context.

g) Consider changing the materials from which your object was originally made. How do certain materials affirm or deny the original function of the object? How could this help in creating a monument that would convey a particular meaning?

h) After securing appropriate approvals, insert the reduced or enlarged version of your object/monument into a new context. Consider choosing a place in which the original function or meaning of the object is called into question--or generates a sense of surprise. Integrate it into its new context in such a way that the whole setting is transformed. Consider the difference between displaying the object prominently versus disguising the object.

i) Using your initial paragraph, your lists, and your finished sculpture as resources, write a page that compares your original object to your monument. Put this page into your notebook.

Critique Ideas


When you have completed your sculpture, pair up with another "design team" and trade critiques. Consider the following:

1. Describe the techniques used to create the sculptures and explain how various aspects of the problem were addressed such as material choice, the "monumental" character of the object, success at relating to the context, etc.

2. How effectively did the artists on the design team work together?

3. Discuss ideas the artwork seems to communicate. After some sharing of interpretations, attempt to state the "message" of the design in one sentence. (This artwork is about. . .)



Your notebook should include the following:

1. Evidence of your design team's research (print-outs from magazines, web searches, interviews with artists, etc.).

2. Your design process (documentation of original object, method used to move between scales, drawings, computer-printouts, photos).

3. Supplemental materials (receipts, notes about technique or materials)

4. Documentation of the final work on site.

The above project was developed by Dan Collins.

Return to UNIT V Overview