Location: Robot house, SCI-Arc, Los Angeles, USA
Duration: September - December 2014
Status: Post-professional research project
Authors: Stefan Svedberg, Pingting Wei, Sen Dai, Chuck Diep
Supervisors: Peter Testa, Devyn Weiser
Critics: Hernand Diaz Alonso, Marcelo Spina, Marcelyn Gow, Tom Wiscombe, Casey Rehm, Herwig Baumgartner
Studio: Spitting Images
Institution: SCI-Arc

In recent years, rapid prototyping and CNC technology have become increasingly commonplace and developments and breakthroughs in technology continue to improve the analogue accessibility of digital geometry. This ability to directly translate euclidean geometry from digital space into the physical world has sparked a discussion on how interference with this linear process of conception and output can yield new avenues in design. It is a discussion that has lead to the progressive blurring of the relationship between digital and analogue functions. Although the technology in question was primarily built to target either representation or direct production, it is now also becoming a design tool in itself.

Between the euclidean and the analogue:
The discrepancy in the translation between software environments and the physical environment can be harnessed to offer new forms of explorations in the design process. In the case of robotic technology, the capacity to transform output processes into a design tool and vice versa not only creates a dynamic dialogue between the euclidean and analogue, but also allows for real-time investigations of the translation of geometry from digital to physical formats. The exactitude of robot technology has allowed us to develop precise and controlled processes, which are mainly defined by series of coordinates, time/speed and joint movements, to create output rather than a direct translation of euclidean geometry. There are, however, also the limitations and irregular events of how the robots slow down when performing complicated joint movements or behave glitchy as a result of our instructions, and it is these very irregularities that we have employed in our design process. An approach that offers perhaps the most potential for design is the study of robotic output objects; objects that can in turn be used as a computational input thus creating an information feedback loop. This loop elicits a re-evaluation of material logic and tectonics, integrating an information layer of material behaviour and sensibility into the design process. Our focus has been the additive process using an extruder attached to a robot arm which allowed us to explore the material's irregular behaviour in combination with the precision of the robot arm. This process has given us the ability to predict and control the in-exact formations of the additive design to varying extents. It also required that we understood the material properties, its melting point and chemistry to carry out our additive procedures.

The process of looping information between the digital and the physical realm obscures the threshold between the computer interface and the real world. With the use of software and 3D scanning technology, the possibility to explore new loops of inputs to physical outputs increases real-time control in the making process, blurring euclidean and analogue processes. 3D scanning technology is evermore commonplace and is mainly designed to precisely describe and transfer geometry from physical to euclidean realms. By understanding the technology's strive for precise representation we also understood its glitches and shortcomings which we have used as part of the design process. As in the case of the robot and additive process we again used the potential of a precise scanning process to predict an in-exact euclidean geometry input.

Architectural form exploration:
By the exploration and re-evaluation of the architectural corner, techniques of grafting a series of additive process from 2d to 3d through extrusions onto a surface with the aid of scaffolds enables the study of the anamorphic contrast between different resolutions in the format of model processes and drawings. The organisation of new opportunities to create, rebuild and extract a new mixed resolution complexity through the discord between euclidean and physical domains by using robot technology in combination with material processes as an output and scanning as in input was developed through a workflow. When moving between multiple platforms and software it was necessary for us to find limitations and develop guidelines to organise and systematise our processes. The workflow has been broken down into stages and cycles which can be similarly adapted to another series of platforms, software and tools in another context to generate projects and research in both process or form.

Multiple platforms:
Glitching also occurs during the translation of geometry or instructions from one interface or platform to another. The discrepancy in the translation between software environments and the physical environment can be harnessed to offer new forms of explorations in the design process. This involves both a change in information due to the change of state from physical to digital realms and vice-verca but also glitchy machine behaviour that is the result of peculiar instructions (similar to what was described as tool glitches). This project takes this one step further by developing a process that involves gradual build ups of information layers through multiple state changes between digital and analogue domains. The process began with generating a tool path that would use the additive process of an extruder attached to a robot arm to distribute material onto a scaffold or mandrill to create geometry. Anomalies in the robotic motion and extrusion were identified and isolated from early tests and then later orchestrated into the output of artefacts. These artefacts were then fed back into the digital realm through the process of 3D scanning. Rather than using the scanning technology as a method of precisely replicating the physical geometry digitally, the glitches and shortcomings of the scanning process were studied and then extrapolated as an integral part of the transfer of information. Each layer of information brought new levels of complexity to the artefacts and yet each of the characteristics of the previous information layer remained embedded or fossilised with each addition. The genome of each artefact could be traced back to its original state, meaning that although all states share common characteristics or “DNA”, they are totally different in resolution. Each state involved processes that were exact and reproducible, but a combination of erratic material behaviour and software and information glitches eventuated in varying results.