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Art that makes an impact.

In a truly dynamic collaboration, a New Mexico artist and an explosives expert at the New Mexico Institute of Technology and Mining in Socorro are using explosives to form a metal relief mural. The process, according to Alexander Szecket, the project's technical expert, is "patentable."

Artist Evelyn Rosenberg places mild explosives -- in a rubbery, sheet form -- on a panel of brass or steel, on top of a mold of hydrostone, or clay. then, KABOOM: when the explosives are detonated, the metal takes on the shape of the mold. "We're actually able to fuse different types of metals and form a complicated pattern on the metal," says Rosenberg, whose 4-foot-by-21-foot mural will depict the topography and fossils of New Mexico. Although engravers have for many years used explosives to incise their metal plates, this is the first techniques, says Szecket, that allows an artist actually to shape metal.

Originally, says Rosenberg, she would do the firings on an anvil, and the shock waves would damage the metal panel and throw it high into the air. But placing the plaster mold directly on the ground eliminated most of the reflective waves. "We can pretty well control what happens with each detonation now," says Alice Seely, who assists Rosenberg in her field laboratory cum studio, in the wilds of a deserted naval firing range.

The creative process hardly sounds run of the mill: "It's a really big, impressive explosion with lots of smoke a fire and we have to run into a bunker," says Rosenberg.

The next step, she says, is using explosives to create three-dimensional sculpture. "I don't think, though," she adds, "you'd be able to form anything like Michelangelo's 'David.'"
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Title Annotation:use of explosives to form a metal relief mural
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 27, 1985
Words:279
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