James Mallos

Washington, District of Columbia, USA

I am interested in simple descriptions of surfaces and shapes. Woven structures are a practical bridge between surface and shape: they are shape shifters that can take many conformations by accommodating shear deformations, but they tend to favor one with minimum bending energy, eventually settling into a definite shape. Knots are also woven structures, but with even more freedom to reconfigure and change shape. A given knot has many presentations, often quite unexpectedly different.

Borromean Brooch
4 x 23 x 23 cm
Copper wire

In my reading about knots and knot theory, I had not noticed the Schubert normal form until I saw it illustrated in a recent paper by Margarita Toro and Mauricio Rivera. Introduced by Horst Schubert in the mid 20th-century, the Schubert normal form shows a knot or link in way that clearly reveals its minimal bridge number: the smallest number of 'bridges' needed to diagram the knot or link on the plane. As you can see, the Borromean link is a 3-bridge link, and it looks very different here than in its more famous form as three mutually interlinked rings. I knew I had to do something sculptural with Schubert forms the moment I saw them, they are like frozen choreography.