Having spent all my time the last year on research for the Learning to Eat Bugs  application, the air has now gone out of the ballon since the project got no support after all. This makes it impossible to continue on this particular project, since it involves external partners and needs considerably financial support. The time is not here yet for the contemporary art to embrace this kind of expression. In the mean time, I will follow up some of the findings we have made through our research, and see what I can make out of it. There has been made a great deal of interesting experiments, and some of them will be presented through images on this page. The resume for the initial project and the final report on the pilot project will be posted on this site: www.freeformfab.com.

Short story: we wanted to develop a mobile 3d printer. With references in art history’s art machines, and rooted in our experiences with contemporary digital fabrication technology, we wanted to take  a look at the process of making in the 21. century in the context of art.

alubotIn the initial phase we were playing with a hexapod kit, just to see what we could get out of it. We very soon decided it was too associative to a bug whatever shape we tried, so that got skipped. Instead we started to use our Connex 500 Objet machine to print parts for a mechanical arm. The aim was to make a movement that looked like a jellyfish.armAfter having found the right movement, we desided that the bot should roll rather than crawl. New set of testing!foamroller02With a lego motor we made the bot roll, and agreed on making the movements with a given set of arms, that would contract and extract. We liked the idea of pads, and started a frensic testing with 3d renderings, 3d prints and hand-made dough pads. Great fun!  bollerenderbombardo1elementbutsopp_3OVERFLATER

Having made all these experiments, the result was that we agreed on a 3d printed surface with transparent/soft and opaque/hard parts, with a texture like elephant skin! When this decision was made, the time was come to discuss the material the both should make object with. The idea of some fluid, temporal matter was tempting. And by accident we heard of the Bombardier beetle, which easily explained has a defence mechanism where it mixes two chemicals from a chamber in the body that reacts by making sound and hot steam to scare the enemy. The story was cool! And the beetle inspired us to start experimenting making sculptures out of foam. Using the well known recipe for The Elephant toothpaste, we had some great time playing around!IMG_0217IMG_0340IMG_0270

After all this fun, the concept  was clear: the bot should make sculptures out of foam. Since the idea behind the bot was that it would make a piece of art triggered through interaction whith the surroundings, we came up whit the idea that the bot would make art as a self defense: When someone came to close, it would shoot out a beam of foam which it would hide behind. When the treat was over, it would keep on rollin till the next obstacle came. That lead to this animation:

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As a side track we tried to 3d scan the foam sculptures, but they evaporated before we could grab enoug scans. That lead to a new project; build a rig for 3d scanning moving objects! This is a parallel project which also is in progress. As a temporary solution we used 123d scan and 123d make software to scan a sculpture out of building foam just to se how it would look, if it had any sculptural qualities. And it did!

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So: what if we could have the ‘prints’ the bot made 3d scanned at the same time, and printed out models later? That track stops there so far. Instead while waiting for the electronic parts for the interaction, we started testing out  textures and colors for the ‘body’, now having deiced that the bot should have to identical halves made of one surface. Still the jelly fish is our model. The Objet 3d printer is the only one with material that makes what we wants, so we really pushed the limitations for our own skills in modeling and in handling the machine. Again: great fun! We even tried dyeing the patch’s with textile color.

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This is the status so far. Next step is to figure out the elecronics, and a mechanism for mixing the acids inside the bots body. To be continued!

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