Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms (slideshow of “gx30″ tag on Flickr)
Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms
Feb 18-26, 2012 at iMal, Brussels
The Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms workshop at iMAL, Brussels culminated last Friday in an exhibition of works created during the week. As expected there is a wide range of works and expressions, from Makerbot’ted data sculptures (Frederik Vanhoutte, Andrej Boleslavsky, Katerina Konstantopoulos + Erato Choli) to distorted 3D scanned objects (Matthew Plummer-Fernandez) and parametric paper folding (Julien Deswaef).
For a complete overview of the workshop and its results, take a look at the Flickr tag “GX30″ which currently covers over 1000 uploads. Another important resource is iMAL’s wiki site Wikimal, which includes source code and tutorials published in connection with the workshop. Some participants have also published their own source code, such as Corneel Cannaert’s release of his Processing code to directly output G-code for Makerbot control.
In conclusion: Like Generator.x 2.0 before it, Generator.x 3.0 proved that the combination of generative strategies with digital fabrication continues to be a fruitful field for creative inquiry. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what is made possible by applying parametric modeling and data-driven processes to the imagining of objects and spatial structures.
Again, we’d like to thank iMAL for the invitation to collaborate on this project, which would not have been possible without the infrastructure and know-how that iMAL provided. But most importantly we’d like to thank all the workshop participants for getting in a room together and sharing of their experience. One of the real privileges of the Generator.x workshops on digital fabrication has been to bring artists, architects and designers together to see what can be learnt by juxtaposing their various fields of knowledge.
iMAL: Yves Bernard, Yannick Antoine, Marie-Laure Delaby and Greg Alveolis.
Workshop participants: Stéphane Perraud, Corneel Cannaerts BE, Hans Verhaegen, Jan Vantomme, Bert Balcaen + Ingrid Stojnic, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Frederik Vanhoutte, Julien Deswaef, Katerina Konstantopoulos + Erato Choli, Frederik De Bleser + Lieven Menschaert, Jihyun Kim, Korea, Andrej Boleslavsky and Andreas Kahler.
Workshop coordinator: Marius Watz.
Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms
Feb 18-26, 2012 at iMal, Brussels
Marius Watz: Form Studies (Makerbot)
Announcing Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms, a workshop and exhibition focusing on digital fabrication and generative systems. This event is an evolution of Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen, which took place in Berlin during Club Transmediale 2008. Generator.x 3.0 is produced by iMAL in collaboration with Marius Watz.
Context: Digital fabrication drastically changes manufacturing by democratizing access to industrial tools as well as changing the way objects are produced, opening the door for the on-demand creation of bespoke objects. Combined with the “craft” of code it becomes possible to directly connect parametric software processes to an instant manufacturing workflow, turning bits into atoms and introducing a paradigm that is radically different from traditional 3D modeling.
Generative systems shift the focus from static models towards a computational logic – what Bruce Sterling calls processuality. Here objects are understood as mere instances of a family of forms, produced by a specific interaction of parameters. Such forms may be data-driven or created through interactive means, adapting to conditions coded into the system. The artist becomes a “gardener” of possible forms, harvesting desirable results in an iterative process of coding and prototyping.
Workshop format: Participants will be chosen from a call for projects, with a focus on experience combining coding practices with digital fabrication. We will have large and powerful laser cutter machine on site, as well as several low-cost 3D Printers (Makerbots). The main software tool will be Processing (http://www.processing.org), but we also welcome users of other coding tools like VVVV, PD or OpenFrameworks.
The workshop will be hands-on and geared towards producing projects ready for exhibition at the end of the project. Participants will be expected to be familiar with code and generative strategies. There will be short tutorials demonstrating certain techniques, but the main focus is on the participants’ own independent work.
Call for projects: Submit projects or concepts for consideration through the online form on the iMAL web site.
Support: Generator.x 3.0 is produced by iMAL, and is made possible by the support of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, and our sponsors Hackable-devices (Paris and Ghent) and i.materialise.
SOFTlab: (n)arcissus, 2010
Site-specific installation, laser cut mylar & acrylic
“(n)arcissus” is a site-specific spatial intervention in the stairwell of the Frankfurter Kunstverein, an artificial skin that drops down through the vertical space using gravity as a principle. By designing the form as a parametric model SOFTlab are able to manipulate the formal qualities of the final output while simultaneously optimizing it for physical construction. Their script breaks the surface down into individual surfaces for laser cutting, producing the unique modules needed to produce the larger structure.
Digital tools are not new to the field of architecture, but the last few years have seen an explosion in the use of generative systems combined with digital manufacturing processes. This new style of computational architecture explores the creation of complex forms based on parametric processes, giving rise to a new range of architectural expression while eliminating the economy of mass-produced form. Positioned at the heart of this movement, SOFTlab is an emerging architectural practice whose work combines scripted processes with knowledge of materials and principles of construction.
Serero Architects: EIFFEL_DNA, generative design for extension of Eiffel Tower
Good news for anyone planning to visit that Parisian icon, the Eiffel Tower: A competition for an extension of the tower’s public areas aims to reduce wait times and increase its visitor capacity. And best of all, the winning entry was produced through a generative design process.
Serero Architects have proposed an extension of the top plateau of the tower, using a carbon Kevlar structure capable of carrying the weight of visitors venturing out onto the observation deck to take in the beauty of the French capital. Without any physical modification to the existing structure, it will double the available floor surface.
The generative script was inspired by the cross bracing beams that give the Eiffel Tower its architectural signature, generating 3 interconnected woven forms. The result is a nice combination of the current architectural trend of sub-divided surfaces and the Art Nouveau flourishes of the original tower. Considering that many Parisians hated the tower when it was first built, it will be interesting to see how they react to this revision of their shared heritage.
Saturday was the last day of the Generator.x 2.0 exhibition at [DAM]Berlin. The occasion was marked with an informal curator talk, followed by Q+A. The 1-month show has had a great reception, proving popular both with the Transmediale crowd and the general art viewing public. While it’s always nice to reach with a community of one’s peers, reaching “regular people” is extra satisfying.
A slightly less enjoyable task was the disassembly of the exhibition in preparation for shipping. It is always bittersweet moment to see an exhibition disassembled and stuck in the back of an old Toyota Corrolla. See the following image to get an impression of this anti-climactic view.
Thankfully, any sadness was alleviated by knowing that 24 hours after being packed into this car, the works arrived safely in Turin, Italy to be part of the SHARE Festival. Bruce Sterling is the guest curator of this year’s festival, the theme of which is “Manufacturing”. After Bruce attended to the opening of Generator.x 2.0 we started discussing the possibility of taking the show to SHARE, a plan that will come to fruition tomorrow when the exhibition re-opens in Turin.
A few of the pieces from Berlin won’t be on display in Turin, for instance Aperiodic_Vertebrae by Theverymany aka Marc Fornes and Skylar Tibbits. This ambitious installation turned out to be too complex for the show at [DAM]Berlin, and so we sadly had to display a creative deconstruction of the intricate polygon structure instead of the cantilever bridge-like form it was meant to be. But now there is the exciting news that Skylar and Marc are producing a reworked and more stable version for NODE08 in Frankfurt. We look forward to seeing documentation of it fully built.
A few pieces have been also been added, the results of a fabbing workshop at HyperWerk that followed on the heels of the Berlin workshop and featured some of the same people. Martin Fuchs has provided some intriguing polygon forms in paper and cardboard that he didn’t have time to finish in Berlin, and Leander Herzog has produced a selection of plastic branching structures that point towards an organic exploration of plastic as material.
As the project now finally winds down, we wish to express our gratitude to everybody who contributed to making Generator.x 2.0 such a great even, in particular the following:
- Club Transmediale, in particular the curators Jan Rohlf and Oliver Baurhenn who gave the project the green light and supported it wonderfully through its various phases.
- Anke Eckardt, for being an excellent producer both for the workshop and for the concert evening.
- [DAM]Berlin and Wolf Lieser, for providing the gallery space and much-needed help in turning a big mess into a presentable exhibition in the space of a single afternoon.
- The Ballhaus Naunynstrasse and its crew, for providing everything from technical support to much-needed coffee.
- Lasern and Martin Bauer, for making it possible to have a laser cutter on site, and for helping out with laser know-how.
- HyperWerk Institute for Postindustrial Design, for fabbing support and for contributing a quota of skilled students.
- The Office For Contemporary Art Norway for supporting the project financially.
- Bruce Sterling and Luca Barbeni of the SHARE Festival, for taking the show to Italy and showing it to a new audience.
Finally, we wish to thank all the participants for their enthusiasm and generous sharing of skills during the workshop. It was a pleasure to work with you. We can only hope that Generator.x 2.0 will result in new networks being formed, with interesting projects as a result.
Commonwealth: Testing For.
The Generator.x 2.0 event ended almost two weeks ago, and we are busy trying to catch up with other things. The project was a big success, culminating in the exhibition opening which saw maybe 200 people turn up to look at the strange objects on display. Audiences responded enthusiastically to a show about digital media that did not have a single piece running on electrical power.
While most of the works in the show literally did not exist the week before, there were a few pre-selected pieces by people like Jared Tarbell, Theverymany (Marc Fornes and Skylar Tibbits) and Commonwealth.
An experimental studio straddling the divide between architecture, industrial design and pure research, Commonwealth’s work is marked by an amazing attention to surface as well as structure. Their contribution to Generator.x 2.0 is a prototype for a series of tables. CNC milled in Corian, the two panels feature patterns optimized both for visual detail and material transparency.
The following is their own description of the project (also, see Flickr):
Through the variation of embedded cells, this project explores pattern, tactility, and transparency. The exhibited prototypes are examples of material testing used in the development of a series of tables designed by Commonwealth in 2007.
Where the cells become deeper (and reciprocally the skin spanning each cell becomes thinner,) more light is passed through to the table top surface. As the cells become less deep, the graphic effect on the table surface is darker. A three-axis mill was used to test the process against the material properties of white, semi-transparent Corian, a grainless resin composite. Through minute increments of interconnected cell variation, a graphic gradient is produced.
Flickr: Commonwealth: Generator.x 2.0
Commonwealth vs Kenzo Minami: Closer
Commonwealth’s genius lies in the ability to marry pure form with graphic treatments, to the point where visual elements can’t be separated from the form itself. An excellent example is “Closer”, their collaboration with Kenzo Minami. Their response to Minami’s explosive graphics is a darkly erotic wall tile, its alien topography engraved with omninous visual details. The sheer tactility of these objects belies their origin as digital models, successfully disconnecting them from the world of the virtual.
This evening will see the second part of the public presentations of Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen. While the focus is architecture, the speakers will come at the topic from very different angles, with more focus on virtual environments and parametric form than on housing units and retail space.
Presentations are 19:00-21:00 at the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, Naunynstrasse 27.
- Aram Bartholl [DE]
- Tim Schork – Mesne [DE / AUS]
- David Dessens [FR]
- Skylar Tibbits – Theverymany [US]
» Aram Bartholl [DE] trained as an architect, but has since turned his attention towards the intersection of physical and virtual space. Works such as Chat and WoW translate elements of computer culture into literal physical manifestations, enforcing their quality as cultural artifacts while challenging our acceptance of them.
» Tim Schork [DE / AUS] is an architect who explores digital tools within generative design processes, with an emphasis on fabrication and making. One half of experimental studio Mesne, Schork also lectures at RMIT University in Melbourne while pursuing PhD research that examines computational models in architecture.
» David Dessens [FR] has quickly become an inspiration within the VVVV community, known for his dynamic forms and strong graphic style. He will show his realtime performance systems at the Club Transmediale in concert with Fabian Lamar, as well as doing a VJ set.
» Skylar Tibbits [US] is one part of Theverymany, an architectural collective formed by Marc Fornes to explore “protocols of precise indetermination”. Together, they curated the recent Scriptedbypurpose exhibition, an important survey of the current trend of computational architecture. Theverymany is also taking part in the Generator.x 2.0 exhibition with Aperiodic_Vertebrae, a new installation composed of nearly 500 elements.
Images from John Frazer's "An Evolutionary Architecture"
A post on the excellent Interactive Architecture blog reminds us that John Frazer’s classic book An Evolutionary Architecture" is downloadable as a PDF. Originally published in 1995 and now out of print, the book gives a fascinating history of experiments in computational architecture going back to the 1960’s. Frazer’s main interest is in the use of biological models in architecture, applying classic Alife models like cellular automata and genetic programming to spatial problems.
Given its age and that it was already a retrospective account when it was released, the historical perspective is one of the best aspects of the book. But this also means that many of the concepts are presented in a somewhat outdated way. Frazer’s approach to architecture is rather dry and academic, and his text can tend towards the bombastic. Still, the way he combines 1960’s utopian belief in systems with modern technology gives food for thought.
(In all modesty, there was a Generator.x post about the book all the way back in 2005.)
Michael Meredith / mos Office: IVY coat rack
Here is an unusual promotional quote: “IVY is a coatrack for people who hate coatracks and wall art for people who hate coats.” It might sound like hubris, but IVY could just deliver.
Designed by Michael Meredith of New York architects mos, IVY consists of a set of building blocks. Y-shaped elements are joined by 4 different connectors to create geometric configurations that are reminiscent of the Penrose tiling. The result is a wall-covering form that both looks good and is capable of bearing a moderate weight – perfect for hats and coats.
Available in a few select colors (grey is stylish, but who doesn’t love chartreuse), IVY is sold in bags containing 16 Y elements with matching connectors. See the web site for images and a list of retailers. Rare Device sells a bag for $60, which seems affordable enough. There is a software demo in the form of a Java applet, which shows the system growing in two dimensions. But playing with the real thing is probably a great deal more fun…
If you don’t have plans for September 11-12 and would like an excuse to visit London, the Media Architecture conference at Central Saint Martins Innovation might make your day. Looking at the impact of large-scale integrated displays on architecture, it’s bound to feature plenty of inspiring presentations about the future of media architecture. Speakers include Joachim Sauter from ART+COM, Tim Edler from Realities united, Els Vermang from Lab[au] and many more.
They’re offering a limited number of last minute tickets starting tomorrow, giving full access for a very reasonable £150. Sounds like a good deal.