Material Conditions

Materials matter. Time matters. Here’s a smorgasbord of ideas to prompt new thinking about possibilities.

In finger painting, stroke order matters.

Two plotter projects by Jacqui Fashimpaur, first-year student in my intromediate course (60-212) in 2016. Jacqui used Processing to control the plotter in real-time in order to dip a brush in ink.

(Here’s a related link about how Licia He does watercolors with her AxiDraw.)

Using multiple colors… and achieving new colors by their mixing:

Many people like color.

Here are some colored generative charts.

Here are some tips for aligning multiple colors. 

How about a chiseled pen.

Even the direction you draw in can make a productive difference.

There are so many types of ink to explore. Here’s “invisible ink” which only appears under UV.

You can also use a dying pen.

Axi + Watercolor can be great.

More generally, think about precise control of a physical process. Hold the pen in one spot, the ink spreads: a function of medium, substrate, and time. 

Photograph with plotter on top:

Graph paper with (aligned!) plotter on top:

Copperpoint etching:

Clay and Cuneiform:

Indenting or incising can also be used to make “negative” marks on paper, like these whiskers:

You can plow powdered glass… and then fuse it in an oven.

Projection through sand on an overhead projector:

Rafael Lozano Hemmer places fine sand to create portraits:


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Axi with a Pantograph and physical random forces:

Here’s some advanced controlled chaos — ink + air:

This bristle bot plotter will take a little explanation:

Galaxy Brain

Planting seeds with a rover…  doing a timelapse….

Benedikt Gross — drawing with a GPS bulldozer

Bonus, time permitting: A documentary on the art of paper marbling: