Window of Dialectic Views

Photograph of the Window of Dialectic Views, a sculpture by Thomas Strich

The Window of Dialectic Views stands in the main pathway node on the Rio Salado South Bank Path in Tempe, Arizona. This sculpture reflects the dualism of the boundary between the built city environment and the renewed desert/riparian habitat of the Salt River. The South Bank Path is a multi-user public pathway that lines the Salt River near downtown Tempe. Just beyond this side view of the steel sculpture can be seen the Tempe Center for the Arts, a short distance away, and and the Tempe Town Lake, further to the northeast.  For this project, the City of Tempe commissioned a design team to create site enhancements and public art for the formerly barren river bank. The enhancements the design team generated became known as The Creative Edge.

The design team for The Creative Edge consisted of: Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect; Virginia Senior, architect; Thomas Strich, artist; and Jeff Oesterle, fabricator. Thomas Strich’s sculptures are enjoyed as strong features on a pathway now popular with pedestrians, runners, skaters, and cyclists.

Model for Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams

Public Art Proposal to recreate launch site of Hugo Kinstler Volans

This model depicts Thomas Strich’s proposal to construct a re-interpretation of Hugo Kinstler Volans’ speculated launch site.  This model was presented as a proposed public art project for the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was presented as one of five finalist designs for the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2012 Sculpture Design Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The scale of the model is 1″ to 1 ft. The completed project would be 22 feet tall and 50 feet wide.


The Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams

 

Display Boards and Model for Public Art Proposal by Thomas Strich

This display depicts Thomas Strich’s proposal to construct a re-interpretation of Hugo Kinstler Volans’ speculated launch site.  This full display was presented as a proposed public art project for the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was presented as one of five finalist designs for the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2012 Sculpture Design Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hugo Kinstler Volans Signature Rocket Design

Photograph of Thomas Strich's Rocket sculpture inspired by Volans' rocket design

Thomas Strich has embarked on a series of new works based upon the speculative history of Hugo Kinstler Volans. Hugo Kinstler Volans was an enigmatic rocket scientist from the early 20th Century, who was fascinated with space exploration and philosophical questions. Shown here is Tom’s model of Volans’ rocket design. The rocket was intended to send payloads to probe sub-orbital space. The payloads would have been held in the glass payload sphere at the top of the rocket.

Hugo Kinstler Volans’ Influences

A photo collage displaying the early history of rocket science and scientists.

This display board was created by Thomas Strich for the presentation of the public art proposal Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams. The public art proposal centers upon the creative reconstruction of the launch site of the enigmatic rocket scientist Hugo Kinstler Volans. This display board shows Hugo Kinstler Volans’ Influences. It is a photo collage of early rocket scientists and their developments in rocketry. It shows: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Hermann Oberth, Robert Goddard, Werner von Braun, and Sergei Korolev. Featured developments are: early rocket clubs of the 1930’s, the V2, the rocket from the movie “Woman in the Moon,” Sputnik, Explorer 1, rockets in science fiction, rocket launches of the early U.S. space program, and Jantar Mantar – the observatory in Jaipur India.

Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams, Project Drawings

Project Drawings showing plans to recreate the speculative launch site of Hugo Kinstler Volans

This display board was created by Thomas Strich for the presentation of the public art proposal Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams. The public art proposal centers upon the creative reconstruction of the launch site of the enigmatic rocket scientist Hugo Kinstler Volans. This display board shows Thomas Strich’s plans to recreate the speculative launch site of Hugo Kinstler Volans. This display was presented as part of a proposed public art project for the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was one of five finalist designs for the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2012 Sculpture Design Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Project elements shown in the drawings were explained in text by Thomas Strich that was printed on the Project Description Board. That text is reprinted here below.

 

Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams

– The Project

Using Hugo KinstlerVolans’ notebooks as inspiration, I am proposing a public art project based upon a Volans’ design for a rocket launch site. Volans had always hoped to develop a viable launch vehicle and platform. His larger launch site designs were never built, but they display an intriguing mix of functions, reflecting his interest in rocket science and cosmology.

I have chosen to transform his designs into a play structure for children and imaginative adults. It was Volans’ belief that the sensibilities of play, curiosity, imagination, and wonder inherent in children drove the most profound scientific investigations.

– Project Elements

1. Rocket – The design is based upon Volans’ notes. Originally to be liquid –fueled, it has two stages with a payload sphere on top.

2. Payload Sphere – Derived from WWII airplane cockpit canopies, the sphere is transparent to allow instrumentation to take outside readings while the rocket still in flight. In the public art version, the sphere contains a model of one of Volans’s space probes enhanced with colored lights.

3. Hemi-cylindrical Service Tower – The large, attached gear allows the tower to be tilted for loading of rocket onto launch pad

4. Service Steps and Tower Decking – These allow access to the upper stage of rocket.

5. Astronomical Armillary Sphere/Astrolabe – Angled at 35 degrees for Albuquerque, the Service Steps also function as the gnomon of a sundial within the Astrolabe. Viewers on the Service Steps can use the Astrolabe for naked eye astronomical observations.

6. Emergency Escape Ramp – In the playground version presented here, the ramp becomes a large play slide.

7. Launch Base with Exhaust Tubes – In the playground version, these become crawl tubes under the rocket and the launch base will be coated with a rubberized playground safety surface. Misters in the tubes provide the illusion of rocket exhaust.

 

 

Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams, Project Descriptions

Project Images and Descriptions explaining plans to recreate the speculative launch site of Hugo Kinstler Volans

“When a child feels wonder at learning about the stars and beyond, the Cosmos learns about itself.”
Hugo Kinstler Volans

This display board was created by Thomas Strich for the presentation of the public art proposal Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams. The public art proposal centers upon the creative reconstruction of the launch site of the enigmatic rocket scientist Hugo Kinstler Volans. This display board describes Thomas Strich’s plans to recreate the speculative launch site of Hugo Kinstler Volans. This display was presented as part of a proposed public art project for the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was one of five finalist designs for the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2012 Sculpture Design Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Along with the texts, the board includes a drawing of  Volans’ Complete Launch Facility and a photograph of Volans’ Notebooks. That text elements presented on the board are reprinted here below.

Launch Pad into the Space of Dreams
– The Project

Using Hugo KinstlerVolans’ notebooks as inspiration, I am proposing a public art project based upon a Volans’ design for a rocket launch site. Volans had always hoped to develop a viable launch vehicle and platform. His larger launch site designs were never built, but they display an intriguing mix of functions, reflecting his interest in rocket science and cosmology.

I have chosen to transform his designs into a play structure for children and imaginative adults. It was Volans’ belief that the sensibilities of play, curiosity, imagination, and wonder inherent in children drove the most profound scientific investigations.

– Project Elements

1. Rocket – The design is based upon Volans’ notes. Originally to be liquid –fueled, it has two stages with a payload sphere on top.

2. Payload Sphere – Derived from WWII airplane cockpit canopies, the sphere is transparent to allow instrumentation to take outside readings while the rocket still in flight. In the public art version, the sphere contains a model of one of Volans’s space probes enhanced with colored lights.

3. Hemi-cylindrical Service Tower – The large, attached gear allows the tower to be tilted for loading of rocket onto launch pad

4. Service Steps and Tower Decking – These allow access to the upper stage of rocket.

5. Astronomical Armillary Sphere/Astrolabe – Angled at 35 degrees for Albuquerque, the Service Steps also function as the gnomon of a sundial within the Astrolabe. Viewers on the Service Steps can use the Astrolabe for naked eye astronomical observations.

6. Emergency Escape Ramp – In the playground version presented here, the ramp becomes a large play slide.

7. Launch Base with Exhaust Tubes – In the playground version, these become crawl tubes under the rocket and the launch base will be coated with a rubberized playground safety surface. Misters in the tubes provide the illusion of rocket exhaust.

 

– Project Add-Ons for Extended Scope Version

The public art proposal presented here is limited to the building of the central launch structure of Volans’s launch facility. However, a larger project of extended scope could reconstruct an interpretation of Volan’s full facility. A larger project would include these additional elements:

Sand Pits – These would be surrounding the central Launch Base, and at the end of the slide.

Lightening Rods – These would be built to keep lightening away from the rocket and launch platform.

Launch Control Bunker – A semi-submerged bunker, this would allow for control and view of rocket launches.

Radar Dish – On a tower, this element would allow communications with spacecraft. Also this would include a ground-based device to allow children to talk into and send a message into space.

Rocket Carrier – A converted train car, this would transfer the rocket from an (off site) assembly building to the launch platform.

Conic Sections – A 3D model of conic sections, this shows the geometrical basis for all orbits and trajectories.

Planetary Scale Model – A 1: 2,000,000,000 scale model of the solar system, this would extend beyond the site into the city to give a sense of the immense scale of the cosmos.

 

Hugo Kinstler Volans – Enigma and Inspiration

How did I learn of Volans and his work?
Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s in Southern California, I was surrounded by families with connections to the aerospace industry. Many of my friends’ parents worked directly, or indirectly, for the space program or on military projects.

I kept in touch with one friend over the years whose father had worked at White Sands in the early 1960’s. As a young space buffs, we spent hours discussing the space program, speculating about his father’s work, and dreaming up aerospace ideas of our own.

Several years ago, this friend contacted me to tell me of his father’s passing and to offer me a stack of old science and aerospace books, including some notebooks with drawings. These notebooks were of no interest to the surviving family, but they thought I might enjoy the diagrams within them.

The notebooks were a record of Hugo Kinstler Volan’s design work and thinking. After talking to the family, I learned that Volans had been a friend during their time at White Sands. A difficult colleague but a loyal friend, Volans had stayed in touch with the family until his death in 1974. Volans had left the notebooks to my friend’s father.

The notebooks contain design concepts, diagrams, and some writings.
The writings make it clear that Volans was disenchanted with the Cold War and with the narrow focus of space exploration as it was being implemented.

Why is Volans’ work important?
After looking through the materials, I was intrigued by their historical significance and aesthetic appeal. Volans deserves to be celebrated for his visionary nature. His viewpoint captures the enraptured sentiment toward space exploration that characterized the early era when rockets were being developed as tools of space flight.

 

Hugo Kinstler Volans – The Man and His Ideas

Facts about Hugo Kinstler Volans’ life are scarce. Volans was born around 1905 as a German citizen of Jewish descent. As a young man during the 1930’s, he participated in the rocket clubs active in the Berlin area. He is presumed to have been highly educated, with an engineering background. It is thought that he studied under Hermann Oberth, the pioneering German rocket theorist.

Volans immigrated to the United States around 1938. It is thought that during World War II he was in the Southwest, designing industrial and scientific instrumentation. It was said that he met and briefly worked with Robert Goddard in New Mexico during this time period.

After World War II, Volans worked as a contract engineer at White Sands Missile Proving Ground. After becoming disenchanted, he left government rocket and missile research in the mid 1960’s to pursue his own space exploration designs and endeavors until his death in 1974.

Volans was an idealist and pacifist. He was driven by timeless philosophical questions about man’s place within the Cosmos. His saw space exploration as a means to extend our thinking to pursue larger questions of existence.

Volans was highly inspired by Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and the emerging theories of Quantum Mechanics of the early 20th Century. He was particularly drawn to the quest for a Unified Theory and the question of whether the human mind could fully comprehend the Cosmos.

The relationship between human consciousness and physical reality was compelling to Volans. He wondered in his writings whether spirit, emotion, and meaning in some form extended out into space, and if so, how these intangibles might manifest themselves. How would one identify, measure, or communicate these intangibles?

He sought to make space technology that could explore these questions.

 

Thomas Strich – Public Artist

I am a mixed media artist who has been working on public and studio art projects professionally since 1993. Over the years, I have learned that public art has the power to enhance, accentuate, and distinguish the character of the human environment.

The connections between art and science are important within my work. This focus stems from my earlier academic studies of art, physics, and astronomy. I maintain an ongoing interest in science and continue to read many books on neuroscience, cosmology, and natural history.

My particular focus is on the processes of perception and the tools we use to understand the world around us. Early on, I developed a love of the aesthetic qualities of scientific instrumentation. References to these instruments have been an ongoing theme throughout my work. I use these forms to explore the human relationship to the land and to consider physical landscape as a metaphor for terrains of the mind.

– Past Projects

1. 2005. Layers of Time, cast concrete, Phoenix, AZ

2. 2005. Passing Images, cut and fabricated steel, Queen Creek, AZ

3. 2009. Entrance Landmark, old signs, steel, and concrete, Tempe, AZ

4. 2009. Sky Windows and Window of Dialectic Views, steel, Tempe, AZ

5. 2006. Sources of Play, cast concrete, Tempe, AZ

6. 2009. Homage to Discarded Things, cast concrete, Chandler, AZ

7. 2009. Homage to Discarded Things detail, cast concrete, Chandler, AZ

8. 2005. Arborescent Dome, fabricated steel and masonry, Tempe, AZ

Bladed Ground

Bladed Ground is a  a photo construction by Thomas Strich. Tom often uses photography in his landscape related artwork. He merges his photography with his sculptor’s orientation to create 3-dimensional photo constructions. His first photo constructions were completed in the early 1990’s.

Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM

Gila Cliff Dwelling, NM, a photo construction by Thomas Strich

Gila Cliff Dwellings, NM is a photo construction by Thomas Strich. Tom often uses photography in his landscape related artwork. He merges his photography with his sculptor’s orientation to create 3-dimensional photo constructions. His first photo constructions were completed in the early 1990’s.

Juggernaut

Juggernaut, a mixed media sculpture by Thomas Strich

Juggernaut is a sculpture by Thomas Strich constructed from altered books. The books are all non-fiction texts about real estate, investment strategies, or banking. The hydraulic elements and exhaust are made from cigars.

Dichotomy

Dichotomy, an installation by Thomas Strich

Dichotomy, an installation by Thomas Strich at eyelounge in Phoenix, Arizona.

Configuration of Four Elements, Site 1, 12:05 PM

Configuration of Four Elements, Site 1, a monoprint by Thomas Strich

 For a number of years, Thomas Strich has used monoprinting to generate images. This image employs a monoprint for the background. The tripod-based landscape instruments were added with a second printing of engravings. The whole image was then hand-embellished with drawing, added colors, and chine colle. It was completed in 2001. This image was produced in collaboration of the Armstrong-Prior print studio.

Window of Dialectic Views and Sky Windows

Photograph of Window of Dialectic Views and Sky Windows by Thomas Strich

Sky Windows lead to the Window of Dialectic Views on the Rio Salado South Bank Path in Tempe, Arizona. The South Bank Path is a multi-user public pathway that lines the Salt River near the Tempe Center for the Arts. For this project, the City of Tempe commissioned a design team to create site enhancements and public art for the formerly barren river bank. The enhancements the design team generated became known as The Creative Edge.

The design team for The Creative Edge consisted of: Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect; Virginia Senior, architect; Thomas Strich, artist; and Jeff Oesterle, fabricator. Thomas Strich’s sculptures are enjoyed as strong features on a pathway now popular with pedestrians, runners, skaters, and cyclists.

Fibonacci’s Window

Photograph of Fibonacci's Window, a sculpture by Thomas Strich

Fibonacci’s Window looks out on the Salt River and toward the Papago Buttes from its location on the popular Rio Salado South Bank Path.  Fibonacci’s Window was inspired by the work of Leonardo Fibonacci, an Italian mathematician from the 12th Century who first recognized the Fibonacci Sequence. The Fibonacci Sequence is a sequence of numbers that, as as they increase, come closer and closer to the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio, first discovered by the ancient Greeks, describes the ratio between the lengths of the sides of the Golden Rectangle. The Golden Ratio is also known as by the Greek letter phi, with the value 1.618… The Golden Rectangle has, through the centuries, been thought to be the rectangle with the most beautiful proportions. Fibonacci’s Sequence, and the Golden Ratio are found in growth patterns throughout the natural world. Fibonacci’s Window is comprised of a series of Golden Rectangles.

For the Rio Salado South Bank Path, the City of Tempe commissioned a design team to create site enhancements and public art for the formerly barren river bank. The enhancements the design team generated became known as The Creative Edge. The design team for The Creative Edge consisted of: Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect; Virginia Senior, architect; Thomas Strich, artist; and Jeff Oesterle, fabricator. Thomas Strich’s sculptures are enjoyed as strong features on a pathway now used by numerous pedestrians, runners, skaters, and cyclists.

 

Entrance Landmark for Rio Salado South Bank

Photograph of the South Bank entrance landmark by Thomas Strich

 The South Bank Entrance Landmark by Thomas Strich marks the western edge of the Rio Salado South Bank Path. The Landmark was modeled after the vertical measuring devices used in surveying call stadia. The Landmark’s steel framework is 15 feet tall. The panels are assembled from recycled City of Tempe street signs. The blue curves represent the river’s flow. This sculpture stands on the edge of a busy river bridge and freeway overpass. Passing cars illuminate the reflective signs at night with their headlights.

For the Rio Salado South Bank Path, the City of Tempe commissioned a design team to create site enhancements and public art for the formerly barren river bank. The enhancements the design team generated became known as The Creative Edge. The design team for The Creative Edge consisted of: Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect; Virginia Senior, architect; Thomas Strich, artist; and Jeff Oesterle, fabricator. Thomas Strich’s sculptures are enjoyed as strong features on a pathway now used by numerous pedestrians, runners, skaters, and cyclists.

Homage to Discarded Things, panel detail

Photograph of Homage to Discarded Things up close

This is a close-up view of two panels of Homage to Discarded Things showing the high relief and detail captured in the cast concrete. Each panel has a general theme, such as defunct household items or worn-out sporting goods, but there are always other objects mixed in, as might be the case in garbage. The panel designs are rich in detail and visual variety, while their glass-reinforced concrete composition provides durability for this outdoor installation.

Homage to Discarded Things is an array of cast concrete panels within the playground at Paseo Vista Recreation Area, a City of Chandler park created atop a reclaimed landfill. Known as the “Garbage Wall”, the high relief cast concrete panels replicate the shapes of objects likely found in a landfill: old shoes, broken toys, wrappers, household and mechanical fragments. The panels are imbedded in walls and under play area sand like windows into the insides of the landfill. The relief designs were created from impressions of actual objects.

Thomas Strich was commissioned by EPG Landscape Architects, and Valley RainConstruction to design, fabricate, and install these panels for The City of Chandler.

Homage to Discarded Things, relief sculpture wall

Photograph of Homage to Discarded Things installed in the play area at Paseo Vista park

Homage to Discarded Things is an array of cast concrete panels within the playground at Paseo Vista Recreation Area, a City of Chandler park created atop a reclaimed landfill. Known as the “Garbage Wall”, the high relief cast concrete panels replicate the shapes of objects likely found in a landfill: old shoes, broken toys, wrappers, household and mechanical fragments. The panels are imbedded in walls and under play area sand like windows into the insides of the landfill. The relief designs were created from impressions of actual objects.

Thomas Strich was commissioned by EPG Landscape Architects, and Valley RainConstruction to design, fabricate, and install these panels for The City of Chandler.

Sources of Play

Photograph of the Sources of Play figures and stage at the North Tempe Multi-Generational Center

The Sources of Play is one of several public art features at the North Tempe Multi-Generational Center (NTMGC) in Tempe, Arizona. The collection of public art features together comprise Play Like a River, the public art component the NTMGC. The motto for the project is inscribed on the benches between the figures of the Sources of Play. The motto reads, ” Play is like the water that sustain all life; the joy of play nourishes the human spirit.”

The art elements of Play Like a River are connected to a riverine path that runs the full length of the NTMGC’s site from north to south, and through the building. The Sources of Play is situated at the north end of the site. Tom worked on a design team with Michael Kelly, lead architect, and Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect, to create a municipal facility where the public art elements are threaded through and well integrated with the final site. The North Tempe Multi-Generational Center went on to win a Valley Forward’s Crescordia Award in 2006 and a Valley Forward Award of Merit in 2007.

Sources of Play: Physique

Photograph of Physique, one of the Sources of Play, by Thomas Strich

“Physique” is one of the three life -size figurative Sources of Play sculptures by Thomas Strich. This figure stands on the left side of the stage at the northern edge of the North Tempe Multi-Generational Center  (NTMGC) in Tempe, Arizona. Each of the Sources of Play stands on a plinth incorporated into the bench that spans the back wall of the stage. The water-carrier figures face towards the pathway to the Center. The water element is made of stainless steel.

The Sources of Play is one of several public art features at the NTMGC.  The collection of public art features together comprise Play Like a River, the public art component of the NTMGC. Each figure is tied to color coded elements embedded in the concrete path central to Play Like a River. Tom worked on a design team with Michael Kelly, lead architect, and Ruben Valenzuela, landscape architect, to create a municipal facility where the public art elements are threaded through and well integrated with the final site. The North Tempe Multi-Generational Center went on to win a Valley Forward Crescordia Award in 2006 and Valley Forward Award of Merit in 2007.