Neither a Square Nor a Circle

Wenjing Liu

A musical instrument to explore the tensions between clear definition and ambiguity, and express the emotion of struggling within them.


“沒有規矩,不成方圓” is an ancient folk-say in Chinese, meaning that you cannot create a square and circle without using the ruler and compass. People usually use this quote to indicate that you cannot accomplish certain things without norms or standards.

Square and circle is a very specific definition of a shape. There is no space of ambiguity when they are referred to. To recreate these shapes, we, without practice, need to use tools or processes.
It seems to be our instinct to define, classify, disambiguate and interpret. Other than square and circle, there are many other things that are clearly defined by human, which are believed to be the “correct” or “normal” to pursue and follow — definitions of a happy life, good wife/mother, success, purpose…
I have started wondering more and more: why making a circle or square at all? Isn’t the ambiguity and the in-between state seems more natural in our lives? Isn’t the uncertainty a source of creativity?
Hence, I want to make a musical instrument to express the idea of the dynamic tension between definition and ambiguity in life, and my emotion when struggling with them.


Designing for Digital Fabrication