Burning Man 2013 Honorarium Project / Impossible Triangle Now Made Possible

Deep Thoughts by Kurt Kilgor

Max Eskin commutes past the Triangle:

Walking through a snowy field in the middle of winter, I spotted this ancient geometric artifact, standing dark and abandoned. One of its axes is aligned east-west, so that looking North, its curves disappear and it appears as a ghostly triangle amid the trees. Who put it there and why? Was it used in some ancient fertility ritual? Or was it merely created at the whim of some despotic ruler, of whom this lonely obelisk stands as the only testimony? Perhaps future archeologists will answer these questions as I hurry to hearth and home in the blizzard.

Release: The Penrose Triangle at First Night Boston

Boston and Somerville-based sculptors bring interactive, geometric art to brighten First Night 2014

For Immediate Release
Boston Common, 1/1/2014 12:00AM.

Sculptors Blake Courter and Blake Courtney will be exhibiting The Penrose Triangle at First Night 2014, for its Boston debut.  The 17′ tall illuminated sculpture appears to be an impossibly constructed triangle from a distance, but, upon closer inspection, reveals a curved, minimalist, three-dimensional structure.  The work received an honorarium for the 2013 Burning Man Art Festival in Black Rock City, NV and was built by the Boston area’s extended artist and maker community.

“I am thrilled that the City asked us to show our work on the Common,” said Courtney. “My roots are in Boston, so I am proud to have the chance to show this piece to all of you, my family.”

“The work illustrates an old illusion that has broad appeal,” added Courter. “Our interpretation is simultaneously colorful and austere, both attracting attention and inspiring contemplation, honoring Boston’s cultural and academic heritages.  The team that united to build this sculpture reflects exactly that diversity and talent.”

The artists delight in showing their work and are open to all offers to display it in the future.  Ultimately, they hope to see the work permanently placed in the Boston area.

GrabCAD Ltd, based in Cambridge, SpaceClaim Corporation, based in Concord, and Autodesk, with offices in Waltham, contributed software used on the project.  It was fabricated at Blake Courtney’s shop and Artisans’ Asylum in Somerville, and it was designed in coordination with the Redtail Collective, based in Fort Point Channel.  The base of the sculpture, which will appear above ground for the first time at First Night, was reclaimed from the Big Dig, originally having served as part of exit 22 in Chinatown.  The work received funding from the Burning Man organization and over one hundred community and international backers, primarily via Kickstarter.  This showing in the common was made possible by First Night in cooperation with Figment Boston.

The Penrose Triangle Blog provides the latest news and more information, including:

Other resources include:

Artistic Statement:

The Penrose triangle is a surprisingly pervasive cultural artifact. Perhaps the simplest way to create a three-dimensional illusion from a simple drawing of straight lines, it has been celebrated in the works of MC Escher, on postage stamps and logos, and a surprising number of tattoos. Those of us who daydreamed during middle school may well have doodled it on the covers of our notebooks, as something in the geometry seems to offer an escape from the rigidity of everyday existence. Its aesthetic simplicity confronts and challenges our innate ability to visualize and navigate space, helps define the boundary of what is and what is not, and perhaps even fosters our own understanding of the underlying nature of reality.  The installation realizes this beautiful shape as a 17-foot tall, illuminated, climbable sculpture.


Photo: Ronny Preciado