Thursday, June 30, 2005

Subatomic particles: An art form

This exposition is on canvas and paper but it could have been presented as touchable artifacts.

Sized Matter-Perception of the Extreme Unseen
Jan-Henrik Andersen
"While sciences propose and explain our world with measurable means, visual art and design offers intellectual and emotional appreciation of that which cannot be explained by any other means, measurable or not. This freedom from the constraints of scientific conventions may broaden our comprehension of our world, and I have taken great pleasure in freely bridging science with design - hopefully for the better of both as they are linked by beauty."

Top/Muon event from the Fermilab Tevatron

"The nature of the work is to lift the veil on the optically impossible task of visually observing subatomic particles by translating their properties and classification, known as the Standard Model of Subatomic Physics, into a coherent visual language. No one has ever seen, nor will anyone ever see anything as small or fast as a Quark or a Neutrino, one could argue that they could look like anything, if they have looks at all. On the other hand, a translation to visual aesthetics of their properties and behavior may offer a basis for a discussion of their visual qualities. The proposal as seen in the Fermilab Gallery, contextualize the particles in a syntax where properties like velocity, color, mass and spin is represented as visual elements within an order of itself. And perhaps yet more important; a visual perception of subatomic particles and their interaction may open this fantastic and beautiful world available to a broader audience."

Andersen, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's School of Art & Design, is exhibiting "Sized Matter-Perception of the Extreme Unseen" through August at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

Subatomic particles: An art form

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

DIY Scanning

So how do you get objects from the real world into a digital computer?
Here is one example of a cheap scanner made from spare parts and excellent software design.
Project Splinescan is an open source project by Andrew Lewis aimed at low cost scanning.

Although the results are not exactly engineering models, this project blazes the trail for low cost scanning.

Project Splinescan

Dream Keeper

Dreams are ephemeral experiences in which we all spend a third of our lives. Creating tangible objects that are physical manifestations of dreams can have personal, social and psychological benefits. For example, tangible dreams can be worn as unique accessories or collected for personal remembrance. The tangible dreams can also be shared between friends and family to deepen relationships.

Skin conductivity sensors are used to deduce the emotional state of sleeper. This information is brought to 3-D studio where a script is used to transform this into six physical forms that the user chooses from in the morning.

Objects can be 3-d printed and keep as a physical mnemonic device to keep the dream memories from slipping away.

Credits: This project originated in a class on tangible interfaces (Professor Hiroshi Ishii) at Mit Media Lab 2003. Collaboration of James Tichenor and James Dai.

dream keeper

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Center for BioMolecular Modeling

Millwalkee School of Engineering runs the Center for Bio Molecular Modeling.

From the website:

The Center for BioMolecular Modeling (CBM) uses rapid prototyping technology to produce accurate, three-dimensional physical models of proteins and other biomolecules useful in both the research laboratory and in secondary and post-secondary science classrooms.

In structure/function research laboratories, models function as "thinking tools" in small group discussions. In science classrooms, they serve as valuable teaching aids that make the molecular world real.

Center for BioMolecular Modeling

Models can also be purchased from the spin-off company 3D Molecular Designs. 5 inch models run from $500 to $700.
Quotes for custom models.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The 'blobject' comes of age

The 'blobject' comes of age
By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – In the 20th century, physics was king of the sciences, as Albert Einstein and his successors began unlocking our understanding of the physical world. In the 21st century, biology - the ability to understand and alter the workings of genes and living cells - is having a profound effect on society.

The upsurge of interest in biology has influenced a new generation of industrial designers who have infused their aesthetic with fluid shapes and curved forms.

Taking advantage of computer-aided design, as well as new manufacturing techniques and materials, today's industrial designers are creating "blobjects" - playful, bright, curvy, friendly, even cuddly products that also perform practical functions. Their pleasing shapes have been called "pop music for the eyes."

Andreu Osika, Duane Smith of Vessel

While a good deal of the inspiration for blobjects comes from nature and biological forms - the asymmetrical, fluid, blobby world around us - their wellspring lies within sophisticated computer software, where graphic ideas can be quickly, cheaply, and easily manipulated in hundreds of ways with the click of a mouse.

This ability to play with shapes has created "a golden era for the fluid form," says Steven Skov Holt, a professor of industrial design at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and a former editor of I.D., the industrial design magazine. He and his wife, Mara Holt Skov, an art historian, have cocurated a show now at the San Jose Museum of Art called "Blobjects and Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design."

"There's a sense of possibility in [blobjects] because they can shape-shift," says Mara. That quality, she says, seems to be perfect for this moment at the beginning of a new millennium: "It's an expression of possibility, a new futurism."

Blobjects are more than a fad, certainly a trend, and maybe even a movement.
As far as he knows, he was the first to coin the term "blobject" in a 1993 article in Esquire magazine. Since then, many designers, most prominently Karim Rashid in New York, have popularized the idea.

At their most frivolous, blobjects take the form of "cutensils" (cute utensils) - small gadgets such as staplers, hand mixers, or watering cans that look like bright, cartoon-like toys but were carefully designed with human hands in mind.
On a larger scale, the San Jose exhibition displays a Smart Car, designed by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Team in 1998. It features a podlike passenger compartment, rounded nose, smiling grille, and a friendly aura that the cocurators say makes them think of "a pet beagle."

The 'blobject' comes of age |


An artifact may be defined as an object that has been intentionally made or produced for a certain purpose.

(A1) If an object is an artifact, it has an author.
(A2) An object is an artifact if and only if it has an author.