Neri Oxman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA Cartesian Wax, from the Materialecology project 2007

  • Not on view

Over the past decades, architects have been studying the possibility of creating dynamic buildings that adapt to changing environmental conditions and levels of occupancy. With this task in mind, Oxman coined the term “material ecology” and advocates for products and buildings to be designed as living, interactive entities—environmentally informed, computationally grown, digitally manufactured, and biologically augmented.

The surface of Cartesian Wax is thickened locally when more structural support is needed, and modulates its transparency according to the light conditions of the environment. “The work is inspired by Descartes’s Cartesian Wax thesis,” explains Oxman, “which relates to the construction of self knowledge and the way it is informed by and reports on an individual’s experience of the physical world.”

Gallery label from Energy, 2019
Rhinoceros and Generative Components software; ultra low viscosity urethane rubber, semi rigid polyurethane casting resin composite, and machinable wax
60 × 48 × 2" (152.4 × 121.9 × 5.1 cm)
Gift of The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art
Object number
© 2024 Neri Oxman
Architecture and Design

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