Sunday, July 23, 2023

Mixed Dimensions

The evolving human-technology relationship moves towards an embodied mode of making between human, technology, and expressive medium. The majority of work in digital fabrication opens up new materials and processes in which machines can best support certain creative work, where emerging works on post-anthropocentric making bring our attention to the "messiness" in the hands of expressive agent (or faultiness). Such messiness-driven creativity naturally emerges with any craft or digital fabrication tools. Messiness in this scope refers to qualities that contradict precise and deterministic qualities that we expect from materials and processes in digital fabrication–or those that are deemed errors.

We are also inspired by how traditional painting mediums operate; they are unfinished and ready for continued manipulation after they are applied onto the canvas. For instance, oil paint is known for its ability to be manipulated for a while after being applied. A sense of imperfection stays with a brush mark applied, or a give to it, from which an artist and her medium form a collaborative relationship through continual modifications. Generally, mediums used in digital fabrication retracts from such error-prone properties.

In the context of HCI, Tsaknaki and Fernaeus discuss how curated unfinishedness could promote progressive perfection as well as enriched interaction with low-fidelity prototypes through the lens of Wabi-Sabi design. Tholander and Normark find imperfect documentation in personal journals to provoke new reflection, contextual information, as well as interpretation in the long-term. This highlights how the unfinished and ready-at-hand state of a material could weave into reflectively driven generative processes. Uncrafting and unmaking further articulate the evolving exploration and explication of artifacts as a new design perspective.

This project by student Jonathan Hatley explores a novel tool and materials for brush-like expression in 3D forms. We envision a 2.5D painting device that aims at closing the gap between painterly expression, digital fabrication, and the incorporation of expressive elements present in traditional painting with structural capability. The paper describes the development of the new pigment material, a custom handheld extrusion device, and discusses a user study investigating emerging relationships with the developed medium. We find the reactivity and variability of the medium enabling strong expressive agency and new interaction opportunities. With these, we discuss what are aspects in making that could be embraced to enhance users’ creative agency and ownership in making, postulating a space between artistic expression and utilitarian making–e.g. digital fabrication.

J. Hatley, N. Posner, H. Oh, and S. Leigh. Mixed Dimensions: Exploring Novel Material and Extrusion Tool for 2.5D Shape Painting, TEI 2022