Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Aperture and the Cube

Es Devlin

Lesson time 18:48 min

Es explores her love of the cube and explains how and why she uses it so frequently. She shows students how the cube can become a toy box of apertures, creating entries into unexpected worlds and tapping into the rush of discovery.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Aperture and the Cube • Finding Apertures • The Cube As A Frame • The Revolving Cube • The Cuboid


ES DEVLIN: We spend a lot of our lives going around with a kind of stencil of what we expect to see, different ways of searching for light, piercing through surface to find depth. On each face, a different mode-- a different entry point, a circular aperture, a triangular aperture, straight aperture, different ways in, constantly searching. In 2016, I was invited to give a talk at the Serpentine Gallery in London. While I gave the speech, I was building a sculpture in front of the audience, which I call "Miracle Box." On each side of this box is a different shaped aperture or opening. This "Miracle Box" was a kind of portrait of my practice, ways in which we were searching, different ways to find the light, different ways to access the center, different ways of piercing through, tearing through, breaking through. We are always finding words for things we no longer need to say. And that's really what this piece is about, a kind of personal portrait of my practice, each side another attempt to say something in a new language, a different search with every side of this turning cube. The term aperture we use, it just means an opening. But we use it also as a framing device. You know, the aperture in a camera really determines the calibration of how much light might pass through or how much image might pass through a lens. So we might be using anything, really, to block off light. It might be a bit of paper. It might be two huge pieces of scenery. It might be something mechanical. One of the disadvantages of working in a theater space or in a stadium or arena space is that a human being is always the size that a human being is. And while, in a film, you could zoom in and they could become large in your frame, you can't do that in a theater. The human will always stay the shape that they are. Whereas if you use an aperture, a frame-- if, for example, I have the Royal Opera House stage like this and my person is only this big, but all I want you to look at is this person, I can bring down a cloth. And I can slide in some flats like this. And I can glow some light here. And I can say to you as an audience, please, don't care about any of this. Don't look at any of this. Please focus all of your energy and attention on this one area here. And that's a simple use of an aperture. This starts at a really early age, isn't it? Almost every kid is given one of these to play with. It's one of these boxes. And it has a triangular aperture on one side, a circular one on the other. And it might have a slot one on one side. And then the child, they might be two years old. They might be one-year-old. They're given a bunch of bricks that are triangular or spherical or rectangular. And the kid, you can watch videos of them doing this on YouTube. I-- I-- advise it because it's really beautiful to watch. The pleasure the kid gets from finding the aperture, the hole, which matches the solid object, it's a r...

About the Instructor

For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Es Devlin

Designer and artist Es Devlin teaches you her approach to creating powerful visual stories and cultivating creativity in any form.

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