Project Two: Digital – Physical Transformations

The scope of the second project is to extend the system from project one to include physical fabrication of a generated form.  This will extend the notions of ‘transformation’ and ‘output’ to include both mathematical and physical machine processes.  This will explore the effects of incorporating the analog qualities of physical materials into a purely digital process, and the balance between human gesture and machine fabrication. The final projects will be highlighted in a curated end-of-semester show.


  1. Develop an extension of the design concept from Project 1 which can accommodate a machine-production transformation, e.g. laser-cut, 3D-printing, or CNC routing of either physical parts, fixtures or jigs.  The forms may be 2D or 3D.
  2. Extend the modeling process to include geometric forms which can be manufactured.
  3. Develop a workflow including at least the following stages:
    analog gesture > digital representation > transformed digital output > analog re-representation > (optional) digital re-capture.
  4. Apply the system to the production of an individual final artifact or successive evolving sequence of artifacts.  We expect at least one artifact per group member, e.g. each member may take responsibility for a single phase of a multi-step process, each member may produce their own final artifact, or any combination in keeping with the design intent.


  1. Tuesday 04.21.15
    1. Concept Commitment (in class)
    2. Work plan development with scheduled deliverables (in class)
    3. Develop test artifact(s) (for homework)
  2. Thursday 04.23.15
    1. Review initial test artifact(s) (in class)
    2. Refine and develop final system (begin in class)
  3. Tuesday 04.28.15
    1. Preliminary demo of final system (in class)
  4. Thursday 04.30.15
    1. Final work session + trouble shooting (in class)
  5. Tuesday 05.04.15
    1. Optional work session (by appointment).
  6. Thursday 05.07.15
    1. End of Semester Show (10:00 am – noon): conversation with outside reviewers to discuss final projects
  7. Monday 05.11.15
    1. Final Documentation and revision of all exercises and projects due on XSEAD


  1. per group: design system
  2. per group: functional demonstration
  3. per group: documentation of design concept, challenges, implementation
  4. per student: sample artifact(s)

Prior to the next class, please submit a short text write up with accompanying drawing images and a video link to the XSEAD site as discussed on the Submissions page.  Please be sure to create your project within the appropriate ‘pool’ as linked.

Prompt Questions

The following questions may not apply exactly to every project but are intended as a guide to our expectations for the detail of the project writeup. Please answer every question relevant to your specific project with text and graphics as appropriate.

Explain the conceit or ambition.

  1. What was the theory of the process? How do the artifacts produced by your system embody the skill of human gesture and the potential of algorithmic control?
  2. Does your system allow both experts and novices to explore constraints of a physical, material process?
  3. Is the theory based on a simulated physical process? If so, how were the physical constraints of the materials and tools incorporated into the design system?
  4. How does the user prompt balance global structure and local detail? Are there nested scales?

Reflection on the conceit and execution.

  1. Did the development of more refined artifacts reinforce the conceit? How could the system develop further?
  2. How do the designed artifacts differ from those produced with the related traditional crafts?
  3. What are the decisions available to the person using the system?
  4. How would practice influence decision making within the constraints of the system?
  5. How would those decisions translate to other tools or materials?
  6. How did the prompt stimulate the user to apply their expertise, i.e. their expert knowledge?
  7. How did the prompt encourage novices to develop skill?
  8. Was there a technique that promised to reward practice or repeated use?
  9. When comparing multiple artifacts produced by the system, are the constraints of the system legible? Is there variety?
  10. What failures would prompt further investigation?
  11. Was there too much or too little information provided to the user? If too much, how could it be filtered? If too little, how could a simple process be extended to scaffold a richer prompt for the conceit?
  12. Could the system benefit from further development of dexterous skill?

Clear text and visual documentation

  1. Be sure to include: the Grasshopper patch file, representative prompt images, images of representative artifact (both in-progress and final), screenshot of Grasshopper patch.
  2. Documentation of the time progression of the experience through video and selected still images.
  3. Explanation of the logic of the Grasshopper patch to translate tool input to graphical feedback.
  4. Were there interesting failures?
  5. Can you visually relate the prompt and resulting artifact?