From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Monday, August 27, 2007

M. Preston Burns, Pandora's Box, Experiential Geometry

I've been experimenting for over thirty years with geometric models. Recently, my collaborator and the man who introduced me to this work, M Preston Burns, died and I have been going over his portfolio and papers. Mel or, as I knew him, Bud Burns worked primarily with the cube and the tetrahedron. He divided the square faces of the cube on the diagonal revealing the equilateral tetrahedron packed inside. He cut and hinged the cube and made a winged tetrahedron, eight hinged equilateral triangles, to fit inside. Then he filled the corners with ToyBlox, wooden forms which demonstrated the two-fold symmetries of the cube and tetrahedron. He called it Pandora's Box and demonstrated six inch, one foot, four, six, and eight foot models publicly since around 1970 when he built the first prototype.

This is a short video of what was probably his last presentation of Pandora's Box :

The advantage of working with these models is that they teach geometry and symmetry experientially, without the need of numbers or words. These forms are inherent in dimensionality. They are true, in the way a carpenter measures true - straight, level, plumb. By having three dimensional models you can turn around in your hands, you develop a hand-eye relationship with fundamental geometric forms. The cube and tetrahedron models of Pandora's Box teach the relationship between the right triangle and the equilateral triangle as well as two-fold and three-fold symmetry viscerally. This is full contact mathematics.

If you are interested in this kind of experiential geometry, there will be a symposium on "Synergetics and Morphology" at the Rhode Island School of Design on November 3 and 4, 2007 in Providence, RI. Further information is available from the Synergetics Collaborative

Another short video of Bud outlining his symbology system:

His friends will remember M Preston Burns at the current exhibit of his work in Cambridge, MA at Toscanini's Ice Cream, 899 Main Street on Tuesday, August 28 at 7 pm.

You can see more of his drawings at Bud's Gallery

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At 11/23/2007 4:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

very sad to hear of Bud's passing. I worked with him extensively in the earlier days of his Pandora's Box odessy . 1974. I found this blog while going through my files and found the folder marked Advanced Society Projects, which was Bud's working title for his "company",and decided to google his name. I would love to communicate, via email, with anyone who knew Bud. thanks, Bill

At 11/11/2008 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good words.

At 6/27/2013 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am late in hearing this news. I lived in Wolcott Vermont and spent much of my childhood with "Bud" or Mel ( as I knew him). I think of him often. Spent many hours playing with Pandoras Box as a child, walking in the woods with Mel and listening to his views. Most of which have stuck with me throughout my life. I have missed him greatly and will continue to. Glad to see his legacy is being maintained on line.
Trevor Corp

At 8/25/2013 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remarkable insiteful fellow : no boundaries to his open
ideas . Give and take . More give than take because not many of us could offer much useful data to incorporate. The Box ...Food , laughter, support and connections . Once with a groupe of Boston folk piled into a Ford Mustang and traveled to Western Mass. to find the BrotherHood of the Spirit . No locating the Brotherhood but Amherst was changed for better . He , Bud, is a member of the Glad you dropped by this planet elite groupe.


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