July 7, 2014

The design of chess pieces has evolved slowly over the centuries. Unlike Western chess, many of these Asian games are little known outside their region. In her recent 'Orthogonal/Diagonal' exhibition at the Enjoy Public Art Gallery in New Zealand, LA based artist Nova Jiang uses regional variants of chess found in Asia and elsewhere as seeds for digitally generating 3D printed playable games.

"I have redesigned 8 regional variants of the game Chess from Asia and elsewhere, so that the game pieces reflect how they move on the board." Jiang explained to us. "The variants presented are from China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc... These are 3D printed and displayed on custom game tables for gallery visitors to play with."

Treating each chess variant as a unique iteration of the same ancient system, Jiang reimagines the games as sculptural ensembles of related forms. Can a digital sculptural system generate game pieces that convey their rules of movement and capture? Interested in both redesigning the surface of these games and engaging with their underlying systems, Jiang presents eight games for visitors to play." - Enjoy Gallery

Jiang (b. 1985) was born in China and grew up in New Zealand. She holds a BFA from University of Auckland and a MFA from University of California, Los Angeles. She creates work that encourages tactile and creative participation from the audience, resulting in structurally open systems in which joy, disorder and improvisation can thrive.

During the exhibition at Enjoy, she also hosted a four-hour tournament where participants are required to play as many different regional chess variants as possible against different opponents. The participants consisted of members of the Wellington Chess Club as well as local artists. Three of the participants are former New Zealand chess champions, two of have the title of International Master.

"3D printing allowed me to explore new forms difficult to manufacture by hand and also to prototype designs quickly for play testing." Jiang said.

"It was a great opportunity to observe whether the design of the individual game pieces really do inform the players of the rules. It turns out that we still needed rulebooks in the beginning, but the game pieces did act as learning aids for many players. I gathered a lot of good design feedback which will help improve the next iteration."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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