In structures class, budding architects are told that red signifies compression and blue signifies tension. These concepts remain abstract as students characterize compression as ‘pushing’ and tension as ‘pulling.’ Then comes the magical day when the instructor shows video of a beam deforming under these forces—everyone was looking forward to scenes of epic destruction, only to have the beam fail to move all of half an inch.
London-based designer and artist Fabrice Le Nezet has created ‘Measure,’ a series of sculptures that actually visualize the force of tension (both structural and emotional). In each piece, heavy concrete masses act as anchors for a series of steel ‘cables’ stretched between. The result is visceral. The positions of these masses are uncomfortable, as if the artist captured them in the middle of falling over: one hangs from the ceiling like the sword of Pericles, one tilts from a wall like a falling domino, and a third features a web structure filled with so much perceived energy that one fears the two slabs attached to it will slam back together.
Images: Fabrice Le Nezet via CONTEMPORIST