Paperholm is both a physical and a virtual project which sees Scottish artist Charles Young building a miniature paper-metropolis in his studio and cataloguing it online.
Young, an architectural graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, conceived Paperholm in August 2014 as a way to develop his creativity and his model-making skills. Using plain watercolour paper (for the “good balance between its flexibility and its strength” as he explains), PVA glue, a sharp blade and an eye for detail, he set out to make, photograph and post one paper model per day online, a process that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on its complexity. After completing over 300 pieces, construction paused for a few months last year —only to begin again in November 2015 with a plan to display the entire sprawling paper archipelago next August.
Young’s urban micro-topography is comprised of a wide range of elements, from the mundane to the peculiar and from the functional to the frivolous, featuring office blocks and A-frame cabins, water-mills and oil rigs, flying zeppelins and carousels as well as more surreal additions like houses standing on chicken feet. Initially inspired by Bernd and Hilla Becher’s “Typologies” —a series of black and white photographs depicting industrial sites and structures usually displayed in grids— Young’s Paperholm draws ideas for the daily output out of anything he sees or reads about. Although the resulting models differ in character, function and style, they all elicit a certain sense of nostalgia re. a midcentury-themed utopia, their uniform whiteness effectively turning them into prototypes for its imaginary development.
In order to enhance the online presentation of this project, stop-motion animation techniques have been used to make the models come to life. Windmills can thus be seen turning, billboards rotating, cars and buses busily driving around, lifts going up and down and carousels playfully spinning. Taking this approach one step further, Young created “Paperports”, a short film made from three time-lapse videos and approximately 1,300 separate photographs. Depicting the daily routines of one district, comprised of 60 unique buildings arranged in a circle, as it goes about its business, the short film also gives viewers the chance to discover more about the model-making process itself.