CHRISTOPHE GUBERAN
Hydro-Fold

This research aims to explore the properties of paper and how its structure can change with liquid. In effect, paper is sensitive to moisture and distorts when it gets wet. This is usually perceived as something one should avoid but Christophe wanted to explore this phenomenon.

Extensive experimentation with a wide variety of paper types led to the use of tracing paper, which proved to react the most to humidity. Indeed, air trapped in layers of cellulose is removed thanks to a chemical treatment and water thus does not penetrate the paper but rather remains on the fiber’s surface.

A water printing device was developed in-house. In effect, one needs to apply a precise amount of water on specific locations, a task that was too tedious using conventional tools such as sprays, foam paint roller or brushes. By exchanging the contents of ink cartridges for a combination of ink and water, different pat­terns such as grids and line-based shapes can be precisely printed and parameters such as line thickness and transparency can be adjusted to produce various bending effects. Moisture is allowed to evaporate, thereby causing paper fibers to contract. As it dries, paper distorts and folds around the most printed areas, transforming itself from a two-dimensional sheet to a three-­dimensional structure in which lines become edges and surfaces become stable volumes.

With no external physical intervention by the designer, paper sheets seem to come alive before crystalizing into configurations that reveal the magic of the process. As Pallasmaa puts it: "Vision reveals what touch already knows".

ECAL 2012