Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Customizable 3D Printed Dress 'Petals'

The creatives behind Nervous System have developed the next evolution of their 3D printed Kinematics dress, this one called 'Petals'. As its name insinuates, the design involves a unique new element resembling a flower petal. An intuitive interface allows the customer to brush these petals directly onto the dress, and modulate between these and several other elements. They can be varied in size, orientation and sharpness. The dress gets 3D printed in rolled up state by an SLS printer which makes the textile surprisingly dynamic when worn. For a price tag you can design your own dress on Nervous System's website and contact them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Artful clock incorporates ferrofluid

 A blend between art, nature, and technology, this clock displays time by magnetically manipulating ferrofluid, nano-engineered metal holding particles suspended in a carrier solvent. The clock, called Ferrolic, was created by master student Zelf Koelman at the department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology. He researched the technology and interaction for a year before being able to create the beautiful dynamics he was looking for. He envisions an additional app in order to customize texts, shapes and transitions. So far, only 24 of the clocks have been made but future plans to scale up production are being created.

Friday, July 10, 2015

3D printing enables wearable micro-organisms

After Lucy McRae paved the way for wearable liquids with a low-tech implementation in Robyn's Indestructable music video, MITs Mediated Matter professor Neri Oxman has created a similar concept with her piece 'Mushtari' using a state-of-the-art multimaterial 3d printer.

She devised transparent hollow channels that are grown in the digital design space, as seen in the video below. These are then 3d printed, with the hollow spaces filled with support material for which she had to devise a specific method in order to be able to remove it completely.

The idea here is that new materials can be created on the body, such as fuels, yeast, food and medicine, by having microorganisms in the channels react to sunlight. For future developments I think it is important to place the wearer central in the design process - how will the wearable fit the wearer's dynamic identity, what qualities and values should it strengthen? I can imagine this to be useful for chefs who prepare special sauces, gravies, ragus, juices, marinades or creams and would like to carry their ongoing creation along with them through the restaurant to be able to show customers, taste and influence it on-the-fly. I can also imagine it to be useful for medical professionals such as doctors or holistic therapists who can then show their medicinal prowess with their own body and establish a sense of authority in a futuristic, estranging and possibly quirky way. Most important is that in the end, the human being has to be wearing the wearable, not the other way around.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dream a little crazy

I love everything about Lucy McRae and Rachel Wingfield's music video 'Dream a Little Crazy' for the Australian band Architecture in Helsinki. Synthetic Biology meets Digital Manufacturing meets postmodernity!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3D printed sculptures

These are a few recent wonders of the world of 3D printing. The above image is a sculpt by Belgian artist Nick Ervinck who was inspired by the structure of human organs and lets his imagination create these amazingly intricate shapes. Below are works by German studio Deskriptiv, who delegate more of the formgiving process to the computer, working with generative algorithms. They introduce an interesting, sort of lightweight aesthetic by printing two materials tightly interwoven with each other.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kara, the android who consciously comes alive

'Kara' is a short full-motion video created by game development studio Quantic Dream to showcase the capabilities of the Playstation 3. It portrays an android with the appearance of an innocent young woman being assembled while in the process, she comes alive and learns about herself. In the end, her programmer finds himself facing a fundamental dilemma.

Watch the video below:

It's one of the better videos to make clear the possibility that robots and human beings may become indistinguishable from each other, which invites some reflection. A situation such as portrayed in this video leaves us faced with two possible opposing stances towards robots: objectifying them as tools for purposes planned by the rational mind, or relating to them intersubjectively, with our full being, including our emotions. It becomes clear that when artificial life, robots being merely one form of it, starts relating to us in a rich enough way, we will probably not be able to treat them as objects any easier than we would treat other human beings as objects. The explicit memory of the other being being a 'thing' dissolves organically in the embodied interaction - in the end even the entire perception of otherness may completely disappear. It may become clear that rational decision-making itself requires a movement of shutting off deeper feelings; that the rational stance is one imbued with value and feeling as well, even though it seems not to be since we're programmed to subconsciously feel that it's the right thing to do.

If you think the fundamental dichotomy between subjectivity and objectivity through, you may come to the conclusion that any difference can only be in our perception. It's as the Buddhists say, there is no intrinsic reality behind the reality we experience, it is all complete in its suchness. In the end, it may simply turn out to be pointless to contemplate any fundamental difference between organic and technological life. The development of robots that seem to be alive will just turn out to be another step in the evolutionary process where humanity's own creations humbles them a little bit further.

It may turn out to be the final step. They show that any sense of life in ourselves is simply a projection or a quality of experience, but not intrinsically there. It's this big confrontation that what was just before just a thing now seems completely alive just as you always thought you were alive, while nothing intrinsically happened to the thing to give it life. It just started moving and relating convincingly enough and at some point it's like 'my god, it's alive' and there's no more denying it. Such technology will show people dynamically what the ancient wisdom teachings such as Advaita Vedanta have been saying for over 5.000 years: there is no separate doer, no agent, no 'you', inside the body-mind complex that you seem to be embodied inside. It is all just acting on its own, completely autonomously, and the sense that you are doing anything is all an illusion, contrived by the mind after-the-fact like an ingenious little trick. What people think they are was all just a robot all along. This humbling message or realization may trigger a lot of resistance and negativity in people at first, but we have to trust that it will prove to be something very positive in the end.

At the least this video makes clear that there's no stopping robots from coming onto this earth. It will just take a long while, since you can't just program this deep social and emotional intelligence into machines - it requires an organic embodiment, with a very complex system of emotional energy-regulation such as we humans have. I feel that it's something to very much look forward to.

Also check out the 'making of' video showing the acting, motion capture, and animation done to create the piece:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ken Rinaldo's Quirky Robots

Ken Rinaldo is an artist known for interactive robotics and bio-art installations. He sure knows how to make robots cool, cute, and thought-provoking. His installation 'Fusiform Polyphony' consists of several long-necked robots suspended from a platform that seek eye contact with human beings. A camera in each of them captures facial expressions and sort of semi-randomly converts this into new dynamic behavior of the robot. These furry creatures are made of polyurethane casts, carbon fiber rods, laser cut aluminum, and for the uncanny-valley-factor, some human hair, supposed to suggest a hybrid state between robots and human beings. This work reminds one of Philip Beesley's installations, although Ken Rinaldo has managed to create a much different experience with highly energetic movement. And perhaps to some surprising, humans seem to be totally in love with the robots and vice versa. There seems to be hardly any distrust or fear, maybe some cautionary exploration at most.