Drawing with Scissors: Designing and Patterning in 5D by Jonathan Kyle Farmer

Sarah Broach Issue: Section:

Living in New York City I am spoilt for choice on what to do on any given day given the phenomenal array of internationally renowned museums, galleries, theatre productions and music venues alone. Or the endless public art in the city parks or street corners. Or watching your kids next to Philip Glass watching his in an East Village playground, or seeing Chuck Close navigate his chair around Dean & Deluca. Or listening (as I did yesterday) to a young teen pianist protégé playing in the 14th street subway station or watching (as I did earlier this week) the young kid “dancing” on the subway train defying gravity, using the poles like an Olympic gymnast as the train thunders through the tunnels. NYC is truly a melting pot of cultural high, low and in between.  Opportunity is always in the air here. And it is often the small insider happenings that are the most inspiring and make living here (or anywhere) so worthwhile.

It happened to be the day after a rather nasty winter snowstorm that left the city under a foot of snow, when curiosity got the better of me and off I cautiously tiptoed over icy sidewalks and through dirty slushy empty midtown streets to a one-night installation called Drawing with Scissors: Designing and Patterning in 5D by Jonathan Kyle Farmer. And what a treat it turned out to be. A tribe of intricately cut white paper figures filled the room looking at first glance part storm trooper, part paper doll. Upon closer examination each one is unique and they draw you in to study their individual detail. A wild mass of spiky hair gives one the feeling of a downtown Basquiat character, another holds her arms elegantly crossed like a poised Park Ave lady wearing a Balenciaga jacket. Look again and suddenly some feel part animal part human like a character from Narnia. There is something both pleasantly inviting and slightly spooky going on at the same time.

The most remarkable part is these specter like characters are cut and made from standard white printer paper and taped into 3D characters. Kyle Farmer is an Associate Professor of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design, which immediately starts to make sense of this work. As a fashion student and now professor of fashion Kyle must have spent weeks of his life with scissors and paper in hand, learning, building and teaching pattern cutting. (The expertise of a pattern cutter in any fashion design studio is vital to the successful execution of any finished garment.) There must be some mathematical science to making these characters, yet they defy symmetry, as the viewer gets lost in the detail that makes them each individual rather than in the process of making them.

“Having always worked with both 2D and 3D processes, I made a simple calculation: 2D+3D=5D,” explains Farmer.

Projected alongside the paper clan was an intriguing hyper modern digital film by Jack Hu that brought the clan of paper characters to life. His film perfectly maintained the ghostly slightly robotic feel of this futuristic society.  

Sadly it was a one night only exhibit at a random midtown bar restaurant. Let’s hope this paper gathering gets to bask in the light of a more prestigious gallery setting one day soon.

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