generative drawing machine
Critics: Laura Kurgan, Carlo Bailey | Advanced Visual Studies
generative fabrication, parametric design, context awareness, drawing machine, robotics, remote controlled fabrication, evolutionary design, coded drawings, computational art, digital fabrication
Drawing a perfect circle is simple since the invention of CAD (Computer Aided Drafting). However, with the exact same tool creating a real variety of circles is much more difficult. Input a command to scale a circle 50% and it will shrink 50%. No complexity is added. The output is 1:1. This is because current design tools are made to mimic exactly what their user instructs them to do and thus the amount of variety generated mirror’s the effort of the operator. If the user wants to produce a variety of ideas it will take extra time for them to imagine varying possibilities before commanding an application to execute.
This inability to automate variety is a major hindrance in current design tools and in the design process because generating variety requires too much of the creator's time and thus limits possibilities.
the inability to automate variety is a major hindrance in current design tools
However, when design tools are paired with physical processes the physicality can quickly produce complexity and variety in design options. The Drawing Machine demonstrates how a generative design can easily create variety in a circle through printing.
How is variety generated? A robotic ball is dipped in ink then instructed via remote to move in a circle. The scale of the circle varies by changing the length of string that the ball is tethered to. But when the scale of the string changes, it isn’t just the scale that changes but also the pattern of the circle. Because of the complexities of the real world: the texture of the paper, gravity, the momentum of the ball, the roughness of the ground or the elasticity of the string, complex and unique patterns emerge at every scale of the circle drawn.
Parametric design tools are beginning to allow users to quickly generate variety, although many of these tools require a basic understanding of coding languages like Python. Some apps like Grasshopper and 3ds Max have generative capabilities without coding knowledge but their interface can still be a hurdle to overcome.
Using fabrication methods instead of digital methods to generate variety proves the possibility to engage in a generative process for those lacking technical coding skills. By using analog techniques, generative processes can expand beyond the white collar.
Future digital fabrication methods can move beyond 1:1 processes like 3d printing if they adopt generative methods
Future digital fabrication methods can move beyond 1:1 processes like 3d printing if they adopt generative methods as demonstrated in the Drawing Machine. By harnessing the complexity of how physical material behaves at various scales exploration of variety becomes easier. Beyond its ease analog generative methods are more akin to how patterns organically emerge in the natural world anyhow.