Department of Forensic Morphology Annex

You have to kick aside the fallen leaves to find a small marker identifying the Department of Forensic Morphology Annex, a four-year-old installation just south of the UW Law School. Students scurry by to their classes, seemingly oblivious (or accustomed) to the stainless-steel blob, which looks like something Buckminster Fuller might’ve designed for Woody Allen’s Sleeper. But credit goes to local artist Cris Bruch, with an assist from the Washington State Arts Commission. With a skin of metal plates held together with steel stitches, DFMA suggests both snail shell and igloo, armadillo and Dr. Seuss. The underlying lattice peeks through in places—a system of rods and bars, like a cage or exoskeleton whose innards have long since rotted away. It’s like an unrusted remnant from a forgotten era when right angles didn’t exist. Dimpled, bulbous, undulating—the architecture could be from a distant galaxy or the sketchbook of M.C. Escher. Bruch, featured in a 20-year retrospective at The Lawrimore Project last year, draws on natural forms—petals, tendrils, acorns, gourds—and executes his sculptures in modern materials like fiberglass and metal. But DFMA also visually echoes the UW’s nearby 1895 Theodor Jacobsen Observatory and its famous cupola. You could almost imagine astronomers staring in one end of the telescope and, light-years away, the alien inhabitants of DFMA peering back. BRIAN MILLER

Starts: Oct. 29. Daily, 2008

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