Digital Fabrication Final: Clay VR Future Nudes

Continuing from our explorations with base64 and clay, Kim and I created a VR/physical sculpture that mimics cyborg art in the future.

concept

We meditated the whole semester on the relationship between our physical and the digital body, explicitly on the space between physical and digital object. We tried to deconstruct the notion of sculpture as a form of human memory to the blueprint of code - only to re-imagine it in VR.

We called our piece “future nudes”, as only cyborgs in the future will be able to see the real body behind the sculpture without the help of VR goggles as we imagine them to be able to decipher code in real-time.

process

A depiction of the artists body gets laser-etched in binary code into wet clay, spread out on 12 clay tablets. These tablets get fired in a traditional kiln like the earliest forms of human written media, Babylonian cuneiform. Images of these tablets get put into a immersive VR environment and when the audience is touching the real clay tablet they can see their hands interacting with the physical object of the tablet - which in itself is the depiction of a real person converted into a digital blueprint, binary-code. In the final version the pixels of the body parts on each tablet pop up in the VR environment when the fingers are touching it.

In a first step the highly pixelated image (to minimize the binary file size) gets transferred to binary via a python-script (here one part of the image is shown):

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After that we prepared the low-firing raku-clay for laser-etching and kiln-firing. After applying manual focus on the 75 watt laser we used the following settings:

  • 600 dpi raster etching

  • 90 % speed

  • 30 % power

We got the best results when using out-of-packet fresh clay without adding any water to it. The clay fired well at cone 04 for the bisque fire.

Here a few pics from our process:

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And finally the experimental and still unfinished port into VR using Unity VR, HTC Vive and Leap Motion (in the final version the pixels of the body part pop up in the VR environment when the fingers of the audience touch the tablet):

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