The idea for this piece first began when I started creating artwork with the hash symbol. We all know this symbol from the earliest age when we start using the phone and where it resides in the lower left hand corner of the keypad. On the phone we refer to it as the pound sign. We also see this symbol when referencing a model number, case number etc. and is thus known in this context as the number sign. But now in our digital revolution, the symbol being used in the context of social media and platforms, the hash symbol, has been appropriated for use in hash tagging. In 2007, Chris Messina had the idea to start using hashtags on Twitter. They are now used by millions around the world.
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Paleoanthropologist Genevieve Von Petzinger studies the origins of graphic communications of early humans and in her TED Talk Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?, she explains the early human origins of symbols which include what we know today as the pound/number/hash symbols (see illustration above, top row third from the right).
Back to the artwork. After working in 2d with the hash symbol, I was asked if I wanted to make a 3d printed tactile sculpture for the visually impaired for the exhibition W/O Limits at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. What I created is a sculpture of the hash symbol comprised of 72 blocks each with a hash symbol carved into it in alternating negative and positive relief. To visualize it, I did multiple renders of the 3d model and I noticed the beauty of the variables at play; the different perspective angles it could be viewed from; the variation of lighting I could apply to get just the right shadows to reveal the forms. It occurred to me that I could capture the 3d form from these renders and turn it into a digital print. So from 3d, I’ve brought it into the realm of 2d as a bold print on acrylic, cut out on a router. Deeply cast shadows reveal the forms of the blocks while its perspective angle creates the optical illusion of it projecting off the wall.
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