posts tagged with the keyword ‘art’


Havey Moon's Drawing Machine 1

Harvey Moon‘s been at this longer than I have, and he’s been an influence for years. This video is excellent, and says much of what I’ve been thinking about recently.

One of things I’ve said about my own drawing robots is that the “performance” they create while functioning is a part of the art.

From Harvey:

“When I show this machine it’s a performance. It’s the machine performing and generating the work, and that to me is the art.

Are the drawings the art, or a by-product of the performance, or documentation of the performance?

I’m also focusing on the design of the robots. This is the ‘Digital Fabrication and Design’ side of things. The robots are objects. I create them by using software to designing them, and then using CNC machines to create the various pieces, and then assembling them.

There’s sort of a lot going on, I just need to organize it all.



While researching art robots, I stumbled upon Laura Lippincott‘s Neko, a painting bot.

Laura describes herself as such: “I’m an artist that teaches robots to paint. And the robots teach me to paint, it’s symbiotic.” (Well said!)

There’s some background info on Neko, and she’s also got a blog at That’s actually how I found out about Laura and Neko, as she had a link to my Arc-O-Matic project in a post.


Many of the old photos look similar to my early revisions of my rolling drawbots. There’s an element of being made by hand, and sort of hacked together with hot glue and zip ties. People have actually responded to this aesthetic in my own work quite positively, even now as I’m headed more towards refining a design that moves away from that look. (I can’t help it, I also love designing objects, and creating digital files that can be shared.)


I’ve been (sort of) challenged to introduce paint as a medium to my rolling draw bots. It’s something I’m considering, though it does have its own set of challenges, as a mobile robot doesn’t have the same properties as an arm. Still, I like challenges…


Laura managed to successfully fund a Kickstarter campaign for Neko last year. (I won’t deny I’ve considered doing a campaign to extend the reach of what I’m doing with my drawbots, though I’m also considering other options for expansion.)

While there’s multiple web sites to learn about Neko and the work Laura is doing, there’s also an occasional video on YouTube. Here’s one from summer 2014 showing Neko at work.

This is great stuff, and I’m learning that there’s a lot of information out there on “art robots”, and I’ll do what I can with the little free time I have to read up on other projects and artists. Feel free to drop me a line if there’s something I should see.


What is Digital Fabrication and Design?

In our last post we talked a little bit about what Digital Fabrication and Design is, or might be. This time we’re going to look at a specific example which should make us question what Digital Fabrication and Design should encompass.

I talked to a colleague of mine at UWM, a Grad Student named Broc Toft, about how he used digital tools to design something that he eventually made by hand. He described this as “Digitally Crafting to Manually Making” and provided me with some images and text to describe his process.

Broc's Design
The model was created in Rhino.

Broc's Design
I then used “Unroll Developable Srf” function to get surfaces. (I then printed it out on paper to use as a template.)

Broc's Design
This is the MDF cut using the templates. (Note: The MDF was manually cut. If I had used a CNC machine to cut it I would have had to modeled the chamfer to deal with the angles.)

Broc's Design
I then assembled and polyurethaned the model.

Broc's Design
In coddle form, ready for plaster.

Broc's Design
After the plaster was poured.

Broc's Design
The finished plaster mold.

Broc's Design
The ceramic positive that came out of mold.

Broc's Design
The end result; 21 of them used with projection mapping. (You can also see a video of the installation.)

So there’s a lot of things done by hand, and while “Digital Fabrication” wasn’t used, “Digital Design” was, at least to create the original form, and to assist in creating a template. One of the interesting aspects is that if Broc had been making a number of these forms using MDF or some other easily machinable material, using a CNC machine to create them would make more sense, but with just one needed to used to create a mold, perhaps making it by hand was the right option. Broc also noted that someone much more skilled in Digital Fabrication may have been able to CNC the whole thing and avoided doing things by hand. (My own thought is, do what works to get things done!)

While writing this post I also came across this Instructable titled Digital Fabrication By Hand, which demonstrates the same idea.


Blue Gears

If you happen to be near Palo Alto this month stop by the Pacific Art League to see my piece “Blue Gears” in a gallery show titled “Science, Technology and the Future of Art”.

This is the first juried exhibition my work has been in. Typically I’ve shown my work at gallery night events or more maker-style events, and I was invited by the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association to take part in their “Beyond Your Imagination” show back in January 2013, but this is a new thing.

I found that since starting grad school I’ve really been able to focus on where my work is headed, and critically think about where it fits in the world.

(Oh, and if you’re not familiar with all of this, here’s some background on my art robots.)

(Big thanks to the folks at Evil Mad Scientist for helping out with the shipping and delivery. And yes, the robot that created this was indeed controlled with a Diavolino!)


What is Digital Fabrication and Design?

I’m currently enrolled in an MFA program at UWM with a focus on Digital Fabrication and Design. So, you may be asking “What exactly is Digital Fabrication and Design?” I’ve got my own ideas of what it is, but I’m also going to explore what others might think it is, or not even realize it is.

Let’s start with checking in on the Wikipedia definition for Digital modeling and fabrication:

Digital modeling and fabrication is a process that joins design with the Construction / Production through the use of 3D modeling software and additive and subtractive manufacturing processes. These tools allow designers to produce digital materiality, which is something greater than an image on screen, and actually tests the accuracy of the software and computer lines.

The OpenDesk project has a nice short definition “Digital fabrication is a type of manufacturing process where the machine used is controlled by a computer.” There is again the reference to CNC machines, 3D printers, and laser cutters.

Both of these focus on the process and the tools used. They mention machines controlled by computers. There is some mention of design, but no mention of art. (We’ll get to that part later.)

OK, we’ve got some definitions now, and I’m sure you’ve got your own idea of what digital fabrication and design entails. Next time we’ll look at a specific example from an artist.

Stay Tuned!

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