Code & Object – Parametric design with Processing

I just got back from NYC where I was participating in a great workshop organized by modeLab and lead by Marius Watz, focused on parametric design and generative art using Processing and MakerBots.

For those who mainly know me for my work in metal, high-voltage and kinetics it may seem surprising that I’m starting to incorporate digital tools into my practice. But really I’ve been using digital tools formt he very start, and almost all my work from The Triaparator to The Rocket Stop have involved a great deal of CAD and CNC work.

Now I’ve begun to take this trend a bit further. Before I was an artist I was a computation neurobiologist, and that work equipped me with a healthy skill set in programing and electronics. To he honest when I first left the lab I was reluctant to use these tools in my art, however, those days are over.

One of the many things underlying this change was my discovery of Processing and Arduino. These two amazing, open-source platforms provide powerful tools for artists and enable code and electronics to be used in an art and design prototyping without have a huge part of the works creation be focused on those two aspects of the project. These means if I want to make a work that has an element of robotics or programing in it I can do it (fairly) quickly, which allows me to focus on the rest of the work. And since I have a lot of these skills already I think they will really open up some great new directions for my work.

So, expect to see more code and electronics in some of my upcoming work.

For now enjoy these photos of some of the objects we created during the workshop. I focused on writing some code that allows me to manipulate simple spiral shapes as a way to get to understand how Procesing handles meshes. The first few photos show some of the objects I was able to print using this code. The later photos show some objects created by others.

It’s important to keep in mind that all these shapes are designed parametrically. This means that they were not drawn in the computer as was normally does in CAD, but these shapes are programmed explicitly and with interconnectivity between the variables that define them. Simply put, rather than draw the spirals on the screen I wrote the algorithm (the rule) that then drew the shape. More simply put, I did the math.

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