At first glance, the heads, busts and body parts created by Li Hongbo resemble simple plaster casts. But upon closer, hands-on inspection, it becomes clear that the Beijing artist's anatomical models are something entirely out of the ordinary.

The secret to Hongbo's morphing sculptures is his medium. Thousands of layers of paper, arranged in a honeycomb-like lattice and pieced together with glue, give rise to what at first resembles a large block of wood or plaster.


He then employs a subtractive carving technique, whittling away at his block with an electric saw, until he is left with a 3-D form that can be opened and closed like an accordion. The finished piece can be pulled, twisted and positioned into an infinite number of conformations; it seems Hongbo's only limitation, when deciding how to display each of his sculptures, is the extent of his installation space:

The artist borrowed his technique from traditional Chinese decorations known as "paper gourds" — ornaments that can be stored flat and opened into a variety of three dimensional forms. But Hongbo favors anatomical features over abstract shapes, and his sculptures contain many, many more layers. The end result is mesmerizing to behold, whether it's resting static, on display, or being manipulated by hand (though the sculptures are definitely at their most captivating when they're in motion, a fact to which the video up top can attest):

Hongbo's work was recently on display at Australia's Dominik Mersch Gallery. You'll find more examples of his work there, as well as The White Rabbit Collection.

[Spotted on COLOSSAL]