Kyuha Shim, Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, will soon have his work on display at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum's National Design Triennial in New York City. His work will be part of the fifth installment of the museum’s contemporary design exhibition series: “Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial,” which runs from February 12 through August 21.
“Beauty” looks to explore beauty through seven lenses: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental and transformative. Cooper Hewitt selected work that encompass generative and computational components, as Shim describes. Shim’s work is featured in two of his pieces, Seeing through Circles (2013) and The Art of Selection (2014), which are part of the exhibitions in the Emergent category. The Emergent portion of the exhibition present works that emulate nature while embracing code and mathematics.
He began working on Seeing through Circles and The Art of Selection at Jan van Eyck Academie (JVE) in Maastricht, NL as a design researcher.
“Before I went to JVE, I worked as a research fellow at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab for one year,” Shim explains, “and these two projects reflect what was a dramatic transition for me, from working deeply in and with technology to working on print.
“Eventually, it was an invaluable opportunity to combine analog processes with computational perspectives.”
In Seeing through Circles, Shim aimed to perform by hand the process of digital rendering for screen-based typography. He created a program that translates typographic images into grids, each unit of the grid measured and numbered according to its brightness level.
“I designed sixty stamps and sorted them into sixteen groups based on the brightness levels by measuring the number of positive pixels per area. The computer-generated and numbered grids were then hand-stamped to physically interpret the renderings of the typographic inputs according to their brightness values.
“The most interesting part happened when I made mistakes,” he added. “I had to optically revise the incorrectly stamped sections by choosing brighter or darker stamps in their surrounding areas to cover up my mistakes.”
The Art of Selection is Shim’s interpretation of Karl Gerstner’s notion of systematic design processes (Designing Programmes, 1964). It renders the two-part process of selection as a search for the ‘fit’ in both analog-repetitive and computational-mechanical productions. In the first part, a myriad of forms are generated from a computational system and several iterations are selected. In the second part, the iterations are made into screens for screen-printing and several print iterations are selected.
Although designing a system that generates cohesive variations may sound stimulating, but what is more interesting, for me, is narrowing down the parameters and selecting those few iterative outcomes. Then even further, the final form transforms again with the sophisticated settings that we select in the materialization process.”
With his two pieces for the show, Shim emphasizes the significance of the process of selection for the designer. “I would say that form is not a destination, but something attained in the process of seeking appropriateness.”
Here, at the School of Design, Shim continues his practice and research on computational thinking, data-driven design, and generative design.