LIVES AND WORKS
LIVES AND WORKS
DATE OF BIRTH
Born and educated in Zurich, Switzerland. From 1969 to 2009 I spent my professional life in academia: Studying Geology in Zurich (1969-73); Post-doc at Columbia University, NY (1973-76); Assistant to Full Professor University of California, San Diego (1976-85): Professor at ETH and University Zurich (1985-2009). My focus in teaching and research as a micropaleontologist was on the history of the environment over various scales as documented in marine sediments. As a professional scientist I spent my life working at the limits of available knowledge and trying to transgress it. This involved identifying relevant research questions and developing new analytical methods to address them. This was a very rational process, based on hypotheses,
examinations, test and interpretations of reproducible results. An involvement in such activities tens to leave its traces.
After my retirement from academia I seized the opportunity to turn my attention to a different field – the arts.
Although some journalists and experts have argued that all good music has probably been composed, sculptures crafted and paintings painted. By focussing my attention again on the limits of available accomplishments I first check, when I have a new idea, whether anything similar has been tried already. Is so, I
abandon the idea. If not, I pursue it.
In my art projects I focus on innovation in technique, aspects of surprise and on attractive form. Among these have been (a) partially covered mirrors reflecting wandering symbols or words onto a wall or onto a church steeple; (b) a new type of solar clock (using mirrors that reflect hourly numbers onto a wall, on which they move from right to left, while the sun moves from east to west. A central vertical line in the wall indicates the actual time, and (c) a cube hovering in the air. All of these are explained and illustrated (in German) in my website www.hansthierstein.ch
The latest project is the multimirror, which is a square tunnel of elongated mirrors that are joined at their long sides, similar to a kaleidoscope, but with four rather than three mirrors inside. The effect is, that an object placed at one end of the tunnel, when observed from the other end, is reflected repeatedly in four directions. Reproducing this feature digitally on a computer, leads to the emergence of totally unexpected and beautiful patterns. Such patterns resulting from 49 times the same image, can be printed as multimirror graphs. Four examples related to Venice are submitted here.
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