Project Orthogonal: UCI’s Professor Simon Penny

Simon Penny with "Orthogonal". Image courtesy of Atla Online, photo taken by Liz Kuball.

In hopes of promoting a more efficient and sustainable future in seaward exploration and travel, UCI Department of Art’s Simon Penny is developing a contemporary model of a proa —  a Micronesian, multi-hull sailcraft used for both short and long-distance expeditions. Penny first began designing the proa in 2014 and constructing it in 2016. Titled, Orthogonal, this project aims to combine elements of design and pedagogy, specifically looking at the orthogonal elements of traditional proas and utilizing modern building materials for these practices.  Project Orthogonal is just one of the many projects that Penny has undertaken in his understanding of Pacific Islanders and their experience in ocean navigation. In 2016, Penny directed the A Body of Knowledge conference held at UC Irvine and in 2017 directed An Ocean of Knowledge, an interdisciplinary symposium that tackled themes of “Pacific seafaring, cultural survival, and sustainability.”  Penny is also the author of Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art and Embodiment — MIT Press, 2017 — in which he discusses “Why embodied approaches to cognition are better able to address the performative dimensions of art than the dualistic conceptions fundamental to theories of digital computing.”  For more information about Penny’s work and the progression of Orthogonal, please follow the link to KUCI’s recent podcast: Ancient Mariner on the Water/Art & Technology Professor Simon Penny