Kinetic Sculpture

For the final project, I mashed together a few of the ideas I had been exploring. Both the a wall-mounted kinetic sculpture with linear motion and the scissor mechanisms made their way into this piece.

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A rack and pinion are driven by a stepper motor controlled by an Arduino micro-controller. The linear movement of the rack is translated into rotational movement around fixed points at the ends of connected arms.

As the rack and pinion move up and down the scissors open and close, creating interesting geometric formation. If I were to move forward with this idea, I’d develop a more elaborate system of scissor arms so that the translation of the linear movement creates wildly expanding and contracting motion in the arms.

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Scissor Lift

Next up was a gear-driven scissor lift. I prototyped with Acrylic and Delrin.

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Turns out that the material properties of the Delrin aren’t ideal for laser cutting. There was a little meltiness and a lot of unevenness along the cuts. This created a lot of friction and twisting along the vertical axis when the lift was constructed. I even added springs to assist with closing but the friction was too high for them to make any difference.

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Moving a Square in a Square

My proposal was for a kinetic sculpture/s that were driven from a single point. Each would be a basic shape with a track hidden on the rear. A wall-mounted motor would drive the shape along the track without rotating it.

The idea started with the square. But it turns out that that’s a difficult problem. So I broke it down into trying to just drive a square piece along a square track.

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Also a difficult problem.

While prototyping I figured that a rod fixed at one end, rotating at the same rate as the small square in the track would (depending on the length of the drive-arm) describe a clover-like shape.

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After talking to some more mathematically inclined friends I got my hands on a processing sketch that helped describe the shape. As the rod rotates, the small ellipse will draw the clover onto the moving square.

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This is that shape.

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I wasn’t able to determine an exact equation for the measurements of the shape, so I guesstimated how far the free end of the drive needs to move. That gave me enough movement to test. But it became very clear very quickly that the measurements of all of the pieces needed to be way more exact than I was able to cut for this to work.

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exp_001: Computational Cube

A highly organized object. Each face of this 14″ x 14″ x 14″ cube is divided into 49 equal areas, each housing a female USB port – a total of 294 I/O spots. What flexibility/utility could be found in that?

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Possible project ideas:

  • Code-like object, designed to maintained the dense, monolithic quality of a codebase (especially to the uninitiated) that was still as functional as the thing it was representing. Each USB port contains memory that stores a function, variable, or object. By connecting a computer to a specific USB port the cube transfers that function, variable, object into a text editor – acting as a input for a code base. Through trial and error, you might be able to build a functional program.
  • Data storage mechanism. Each port holds one folder or file. Use labels to remember where you saved things. High/Low tech.
  • Internet failsafe. Non-network connected container for HTML sites. Plug in to one of 294 websites. Off concept.

Thesis Begins!

…ok, so I’m a little late. Thesis technically started when the semester started. But I’m playing catch-up while we’re locked out of the official super-top-secret thesis blog. Actually, I shouldn’t have even mentioned that there’s a super-top-secret thesis blog. Forget that I said that.

Anyway, there are some important pieces of documentation that go along with the thesis proposal process:

  • Title
  • Thesis Question (what are you trying to answer with your thesis project?)
  • Project Description
  • Research Process
  • Personal Statement

Some of these are more interesting than others. Here’re the highlights from my thesis proposal. And some behind the scenes scribblings.

Title:

Hyperarchy

It’s totally a word. It means “excess government.” I think it’s an apt and an appropriately playful title at this stage, assuming my project is going to be exploring organizational systems, hierarchies, and ontology. 

Project Description

My project is a series of discrete, but thematically-related projects – each a thought experiment or an exploration of a concept outlined in my thesis question.

The work may take the form of a piece of conceptual software (e.g. one that reorganizes the architecture of a traditional word processing program), a functional system of sculptures that work together, my workspace itself, lists, or a set of tools with a specific, but conceptual purpose.

You’ll probably notice that I’m keeping it pretty vague here. That’s intentional. At this stage (however late in the game that may be) I’m still exploring what form my project is going to take. You can see some of the initial explorations here and here. And an ever-expanding list of inspiration here

I think that both physical media and digital media are equally appropriate for playing with the idea of structure organization. And, so I’m torn. 

Research Process

This isn’t that interesting plus it’s going to be an evolving process.

So far it’s consisted of a lot of reading. I’ve also be actively seeking conversation from friends and advisors. It’s been helpful to have to explain again and again what interests me in this project. Every time I do, I think I understand it a little better. And the concepts coalesce a bit more. 

I’m also going to try and get out to museums and galleries to experience work in person. Which isn’t, historically, something I’ve done. But recently I helped draft Wall Drawing #990 by Sol Lewitt and the experience was way more impactful than I would have imagined drawing a bunch of straight lines could be. You can read about that here. 

Personal Statement

I think part of why “this project” is that ITP is overwhelming.

Every day since I started has been a (mostly) joyful deluge of information and media and technology and BRAND NEW THINGS! I’ve found myself mired at times in the amount of information, the complexity of the systems, the depth of knowledge that I’m swimming in. It’s exciting and why I’m here and nowhere else. But it’s also been a struggle for me.

I’m constantly surrounded by and using systems (of technology and design) for creative endeavors, but I’ve struggled with developing a one for myself to organize and make sense of it all. I think its time to use that struggle to my advantage. And instead of being stymied by it, I want to embrace it and explore it and play with it.

These ideas of structure and organization and ontology are big and complex. And I’m excited about the challenge of unpacking them and using this thesis process to develop something coherent and cogent to say about them.

As I was preparing for this semester, I took a retrospective look at my work during my time at ITP. I noticed a trend, which probably deserves it’s own blog post to unpack. Most of my work has unintentionally, and oddly enough, been related to organization and/or workspaces.

Pixel-sorting.

I literally built a desk.

I experimented with creating new digital workspaces

Weird, right? Especially since my desk at home looks like I’m the mayor of a shantytown. 

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My point is that this is what I find myself drawn to. And part of the thesis process for me is going to figure why that is and what I have to say about it.