Translating Topography

Experiments in topographic representation

In an investigation of various methods of artistic representation, a small painting by Pablo Picasso, held and exhibited by Harvard University's Fogg Museum, was transformed into a terrain and then reinterpreted every week for eight weeks into a new visual form. Beginning by rotating, scaling, and reframing the work, the painting was mapped in plan, made in three-dimensional relief, contoured and drawn in section, reformed as a topographic model, and then molded in chocolate. This series of representational experiments were document and then exhibited as a final drawing and digital work.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973); Glass of Absinthe and Cigarette, 1914; oil on panel mounted on cardboard; 16 x 11.6 cm; Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Anonymous Gift

Detail of Glass of Absinthe and Cigarette

Painting reinterpreted as a hillside landscape and abstracted as a topography model using paper rods
Topography model was contoured using colored thread and this new visual information was brought into CAD to create plan and section drawings

Using the contours drawn from the paper model, a new topography model was created out of a green-tinted acrylic with an adjusted z-scale. The material allowed for additional interpretations of the imagined terrain by playing with the model's relationship to light.

A mock-up of the acrylic model was created from chipboard to allow a piece of heated, food-safe acrylic to be shaped to its general form.

The final documentation of all stages of the interpretation, from the first visit to the Fogg Museum to a topographic dessert

Back to Top