At the end of last spring, I was asked if I would be interested in making a proposal for an installation piece to be part of Exhibit Columbus as a University Design Fellow. It has been a great opportunity to explore and expand on the ways that I think about design and landscape – about time, process, iteration and adaptation.

My proposal, entitled Calibrate, developed over the next year and a half (and is still in progress) stemming from discussions surrounding the exhibition theme – New Middles. What does it mean to be in the middle? What is a center? How do middles shift and transform? How do perception, climate, and entanglements push and pull the axes? How does our interpretation of time and timelines expand and contract our understanding of “middle”? In this discussion was my own approach to landscape architecture that enlists time-based media and technology to understand the way that landscapes fluctuate, transition and become.

It seemed evident that the installation would be in motion, choreographing a dance between multiple timelines that affect the Midwest landscape.

Calibrate is a drawing machine – an apparatus emerging from the crossover of industrial, agricultural and environment devices that interprets sensed data to produce an ever-changing drawing. The foundation of the drawing is a 3D representation of the geologic timescale, a layered and carved volume terrain. The hopper-stylus meanders over the foundation adding, subtracting and pushing a sand-like grit to interact with the foundation, the movement and operations choreographed through the recalibration of environment data gathered over the anthropogenic and near-real-time.

The machine and its programming have transformed over the process through prototyping and experimentation. Not only have the physical parts adapted, but the logic and coding continue to evolve, relating to a responsive design approach as we engage with our role in the environment.

 By Natalie Yates
Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
Exhibit Columbus 2021: New Middles – “Calibrate”

Natalie Yates describes her Design Concept for 2021 Exhibit Columbus Exhibition, New Middles earlier this year.
Watch here. 

View more of her process on her website.