Kai Franz | While Still Before Us After All

David Winton Bell Gallery
Brown University

June 10 – July 9, 2017

While Still Before Us After All places Kai Franz’s art in conversation with the architecture of List Art Building, designed by iconic American modernist Philip Johnson. New sculptures included here were conceived in response to the grids of concrete, stone, and wood in the List Art lobby. The sculptures are reminiscent of the texture and tone of Brutalist concrete architecture, yet the variability and dynamics of their forms appear organic and expressive.

Franz’s sculptures play with the architectural production of form and architecture’s relationship to matter and materiality in the digital age. Beginning as drawings created with computer-aided-design (CAD) software, Franz’s sculptures are fabricated through the artist’s custom computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM) process. A modified architectural plotting machine first deposits sand, then it drops resin onto the landscape of sand, building the sculptures layer by layer. While akin to 3D printing, Franz’s technique surrenders the control implied in the CAD and CAM processes to embrace the fluidity and unpredictability of the materials as the resin seeps through the sand along the path of least resistance.

The exhibition features new and recent sculptures by Franz including his first large-scale sculptural work. Accompanying the sculptures, the video work The Particles Fell Silent presents animations of Franz’s CAD drawings subjected to artificial forces and dynamics. A dialogue unfolds between two particles in the drawings, revealing a playfulness at the heart of Franz’s compositions. More than static, fixed forms, the sculptures are moments in the lives of architectural drawings that ponder possibilities beyond the grid­.

About the artist

Kai Franz has exhibited throughout the United States and Germany. Recent projects include: Plopper (Dual-Axis Precision Deposition System) (2012–ongoing) exhibited at the RISD Museum and Pixilerations v.9 and the publication of his book Serial Nature in 2014. He is an Assistant Professor for Spatial Dynamics in the Division of Experimental and Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and has taught in both fine arts and architecture at ETH Zurich, Princeton University, and McGill University. He received undergraduate degrees in architecture from RWTH Aachen and ETH Zurich, and undertook an MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with an M-Arch from Princeton University. He was a Fulbright Scholar and in 2013–14 was an artist-in-residence at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany. Franz was born in Cologne, Germany and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island. He is represented by Rockelmann & in Berlin.

Graphic Design
Beth Hart, Malcolm Grear Designers

Ian Budish
Naushon Hale

More about the exhibition →

Franz - Reset

Kai Franz, Reset, 2017
CAD drawing, CNC-code, CAM-software, plopper (dual-axis precision deposition system), polyurethane, sand.



Kai Franz and Mimi Cabell, The Particles Fell Silent2014
Single channel video. Running time: 11’27”