Tahiti Pehrson, San Francisco Arts Commission | One Hat One Hand

Paper cuts, made in metal, made to look like paper

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Artist Tahiti Pehrson is a master of detailed, delicate paper-cutting. We worked together to fabricate from his hand-cut artwork, effectively building a large-scale “paper-like” sculpture – yet using permanent materials. To create a suspended form that felt lacelike and would cast shadows on the ground, we iterated with Tahiti on material thickness, finish, and placement. We also used parametric modeling and augmented reality to pre-visualize the overall sculpture and make adjustments, resulting in a hanging installation that felt fragile, but was structurally sound.
With any build, it’s about actively adjusting to what you discover throughout the process. We created digital cut files and a map of connections for the fabrication team. Knowing that a laser cut process adds heat to any material (resulting in deformation), we explored and tested specific types of aluminum and then optimized our cut files to maximize accuracy and stability. We also knew that installation could pose a challenge, as many pieces were held together with tensioned cables – if done incorrectly, it would distort. For successful rigging on-site, we detailed and vetted our installation plan with a complete mock-up in shop. Once the pieces were fabricated, our finishing department matched the powdercoat spec to give each disc the appearance of paper.