Create something using the laser cutter. I’m looking for something more than just a simple 2D cutout or etching.
Laser Cutting Iteration 1: Cuneiform
This time I experimented with a few different techniques and approaches towards the assignment - and had to deal with a little setback in technology. My first idea was to train a neural network on cuneiform images (the earliest form of human writing that was burned in clay plates in ancient Sumerian times), then laser-etch the generated new cuneiform writings into acrylic.
It should represent the change of technologies (clay stamping to laser-cutting) and content generation (humans to AI). I found a huge database of 18 000 cuneiform images online, split them into 64x64 images and was ready to start training dcgan, a neural network, with the now much bigger dataset of 860 000 images. Then my cloud server ran into a lot of issues with the amount of data and I finally had to abandon the idea to etch ai-generated images - for now. I nevertheless tried it with the original cuneiform-writings.
Laser Cutting Iteration2: Glasses
After this setback with etching I had the idea to laser cut new eyeglasses- they should look simple, have no glued connections and fit my face.
To find the perfect fit around my head and on my nose I created cardboard prototypes and varied the measurements in Illustrator slightly.
Based on the cardboard prototype I tried to come up with a modular system for the ear-parts of the frame: they should slide into the frontal parts into pre-cut holes. I cut the holes a bit smaller than the ear-parts so that they would stay in the frame.
While re-sizing the holes I broke one frame and cut myself with the acrylic - it is sharp.
After finding the right size for the parts to stick into each other I was satisfied with my basic modular system.
I tested the glasses with my fellow students at ITP and started printing more of them.
So far the feedback was positive, the frames looked simple and iconic - I used 1/8 inch ivory white opaque acrylic for the frame. I plan to add industrial grade lenses later.
Laser Cutting Iteration 3: Augmented Storytelling
While working on the fabrication assignment, I used the newly acquired techniques for my PComp project as well. Here we should come up with a simple application that is using a digital or analog input and output. I used a photosensor to modulate movements of a laser-cut dinosaur. I found the yellow arm in the trash and cut the other parts later. Here the story of the impact of meteor thousands of years ago that probably led to the extinction of dinosaurs gets augmented with a servo and a sensor. Laser-cutting helped me to quickly prototype a T-Rex model.
Laser Cutting Iteration 4: Sculptural Piece
The laser-cutter offers clean aesthetics that strike a brutalist note. I wanted to experiment with this hidden element of the material that in its superficiality is void of any human notion - it shines in soulless beauty.
Looking at the printed frames with white translucent acrylic lenses inserted, I wanted to explore the possibilities to create sculptural elements. The goal was to play with perfect imperfections that should in subtle way unsettle the viewer.
I thought about my personal associations with glasses. As a kid wearing glasses, other kids used to put their thumbs on my lenses as they knew I would have to clean them afterwards. They thought that this was funny - I did not like that at all. So I tried to represent these sublime form of power games with the clean material of acrylic and the perfection of the laser-cutter: The glasses should have a visible finger-print on the lenses, a thumb with hand close to them.
To achieve this I constructed a fingerprint in illustrator, etched the surface of the lenses with the paper-film on it and painted the fingerprint with orange acrylic color before removing the paper film.
After that I took a picture of my hand and thumb, traced it in Illustrator and laser cut this with two pieces in different color to create the illusion of space for the hand.
For the final piece I was not sure whether I should put a servo underneath the thumb to make it move to the lens when a viewer is approaching the piece. I finally decided against it as I felt it might be an unnecessary distraction.
I put the pieces on a plywood square to give it a warm feel - that contradicts with the portrayed action.