Digital animation by Michelle Chang with Helen Han and Temple Simpson.
This animation presents the geometry that is the basis of many of Fuller's key ideas and concepts. At the beginning, twelve spheres are packed as closely as possible around a single central sphere. As the spheres shrink and disappear, they generate a polyhedron in which all edges and all radii are of equal length. This shape is what Fuller called a vector equilibrium. One of the characteristics of a vector equilibrium is its ability to contract by folding in on itself. The animation demonstrates how this simple geometric shape can be transformed to create several complex polyhedra. Next, it produces a different version of a vector equilibrium that Fuller called tensegrity—short for a stable structure of tensional integrity. In the last part of the animation, a map of the entire globe is transferred onto the vector equilibrium, which unfolds to produce a flat map of the earth made from six squares and eight triangles. Unlike conventional world maps, Fuller's vector equilibrium map represents the world with minimal distortions to the relative size of the continents.
For more information on Buckminster Fuller, visit http://www.whitney.org/www/buckminster_fuller/about.jsp