Review: Form Geometry Structure Is a Tour de Force Exploring the Link Between Nature and Generative Design

Daniela Bertol’s Form Geometry Structure: From Nature to Design is an obsessive, detailed, finely grained tour de force. Linking geometry in nature from the macro to the sub-atomic level with 3D graphical and procedural software, Bertol sketches a continuity of visual thought that integrates what are often thought of as diametrically opposed spaces – the natural world and computer generated imagery.

Taking D’Arcy Thompson’s idea that form is a diagram of force, Bertol’s work both reflects and instantiates action and growth. Like the spirals she describes as, in a sense, alive because their form reflects a constant velocity apprehended as the tangent to a curve at every point, the book itself moves from form to form, layering ever more detailed and complex connections between morphology and visual structure. In cognisance with current thinking in cognitive science, Bertol visualizes a fluidity between form and action that positions pattern recognition as a generative rather than a diagnostic human activity.

The striking aspect of the book is its expansive sweep across myriad natural and built organizational structures. Bertol explores not simply the visual similarities between forms, but also their foundational construction as ideas and modes of action. For example, she describes the spiral as instantiating velocity, which is apprehended through the gradient of the tangent to the curve at each point. Her description brings to mind Laurence Louppe’s analysis of the spiral in dance as a refusal to fix the body either within stable spatial coordinates or as a rigid mass, since the spiraling body must be at once a falling body, and one that changes its morphology in a fluid yet finely mediated dynamic response to gravitational force.

In a similar fashion, Bertol’s detailed examination of an expansive and extensive range of geometrical and morphological formations instills a fluidity and mobility of visual thought across a wide range of built contexts and structures. Form Geometry Structure provides a rich resource for artists, designers, and computer graphics professionals through its ability to illustrate and inspire new and detailed connections between natural and code-driven three-dimensional form.

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