Artist: Rob O'Neill
Title: "The Theory of Transformations" (part of the Morphology Project)
Year: 2006-2008
Statement: The Theory of Transformations is an artistic rumination of the historic geometric species warping theories of biologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, presented in his book "On Growth and Form" (1917). Thompson essentially applied the idea of morphing to biological structures, whereby he plotted the profile landmarks of various like-species and generated deformed grids based on the results. In three-dimensions, we are able to do this deformation more accurately, see the structures from infinite perspectives, and watch the process over time. Looking at Thompson's work and reinventing it, we gain a deeper understanding of the comparative biological shapes in our world. While Thompson's theories have wavering scientific relevance, the forms produced between the start and end points are where they become most interesting. These forms are the ones Thompson never saw. Beginning with the realistic starting points of laser-scanned chimpanzee and human crania, we apply the others transformation grid and travel through hypothetical forms to reach something created through sculpture and code that has the semblance of the others form appearing both familiar and unreal. The sculptural results are presented through a series of rapid-prototyped sculptures created from the deformations, presented in a small wooden cabinet in the tradition of a "Cabinets of Curiosities" (also know as a Wunderkammer). A small embedded LCD monitor plays back the animated transformation from one shape to the next. The four sculptures include the prints of the original skulls, as well as the transformed chimp and human. All are within sculpted 3D grids based on those illustrated by Thompson to reveal the transformation.

(3D Prints):
Exhibition History: April 5-14, 2007: Parsons Design and Technology: "10 Years Running" Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY
November 2009: Intersculpt Digital Sculpture Biennial, Metz, France
© 2001 - Rob O'Neill
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