Carbon fibre, 3D printed joint system, Cuben Fibre.
Commissioned by Dandara, Jersey, 2011
Little Shining Man is a sculpture that has the potential for flight. The design of the structure is based around the tetra kites of Alexander Graham Bell, multiplied out into colliding cubes that take their form from the cubic formations of the mineral Pyrite. A double wing module has been duplicated and arranged into a tight cellular structural arrangement that appears as a heavy, un-flyable mass. Utilising lightweight materials and the symmetry of the module and composition, it is able to fly freely and steadily.
The kite flown in the images is one section of an arrangement of three, that come together to create the final piece of sculpture that is taken own from display once a year to be flown in St. Aubin’s Bay.
There were several challenges in realising Little Shining Man. The structure had to be as strong and light as possible in order to fly, but had to return to earth with minimal damage so it could be installed as a piece of sculpture. Carbon fibre rod and Cuben fibre, a hand made composite fabric used primarily in racing yacht sails, achieved the perfect combination of strength and weight. The visual impact of the fabric produces an ethereal sense of depth and refraction that gives the heavy mass the lightest touch.
Queen & Crawford designed a joint system, the CKJ_01, a universal Nylon joint that would handle every connection in the composition. They work closely with 3TRPD in Newbury who are at the cutting edge of the Rapid Prototyping Industry. Printing the joints allows design, production, testing and refinement in a short time frame. The material is light and strong, perfect for this application.
More than 23,000 individual components make up the complete structure. Entirely assembled by hand; from design through to delivery more than 16 months of work.
Matthew Higginbottom, Queen + Crawford, 2011