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Mix 3D printing, plein air painting, site-specific art, and instruction-based art together and this is what you get--a portable system that lets you generate 3D models from the environment and print those models by following the commands typically given to 3D printers. Essentially, you 3D print by hand with whatever materials you deem necessary. This project represents a step along an ongoing project I call Being the Machine (website, instructable, publication). The project explores ways that we can get out of the lab, engage our senses, and combine digital manufacturing workflows with the vibrance and unpredictability of the physical world.

Step 1: Overview

The system consists of electronics, a laser guide, a mobile app, and materials, all encased within a portable easel that allow you to build with data in the wild.

The backbone of the system is the mobile app. This app generates 3D models from images taken in your building environment and communicates with the hardware that guides the building process. Use the app to capture an image and generate a model, then, you can begin to build that model by hand.

Building is as simple as following the movements of the laser pointer, almost like a game of connect the dots. The laser guide mounted at the top of the box projects a single point onto the building platform. This is your starting point. Place some materials on that point and use the remote control/key fob to advance laser guide to the next point. Once the point has moved, you follow it with your materials. Point by point, layer by layer, you follow the laser point with your materials until the model is complete. As you build, the mobile app gives you live updates as to where you are in the building process.

<p>This is brilliant.. 3d printing at its simplest, or guided modeling advanced. Really great work.</p><p>I would buy one in a sec.</p><p>Greetings</p>
<p>thank you!</p>
<p>cute, but I honestly fail to see the usefulness of this contraption en plein air. You would think that the captured image of nature is at least grossly rendered in the result. Instead of which the photo to the trees (or the clearing) and of the beach result in making a vase or something close to that. Working en plein air serves two purposes : 1) working in a nice environment, which we must admit is secondary to the following 2) rendering nature in work as close as possible to reality. Obviously, but tell me if I'm wrong, this has been forgotten and the work we see in the video may as well have been trasfered directly from the artist's mind to the piece instead of going through the digital step. </p><p>I must confess I'm at loss.</p>
<p>Thank you for your comment vincent7520 and you make great about working en plein air. I hope I can clarify a few things. The project is not meant to be a literal translation of existing plein air practices into a 3D context. Instead, the project is more conceptual than pragmatic. I wanted to contrast plein air painting with 3D printing as a way to think about the contexts in which printing typically takes place and how those could be different. My goal was never to represent the physical world with some precision, although, with a bit more advanced scanning technology on mobile phones, this would certainly be a fun option. Instead, I wanted to create a platform to be in the world, getting your hands dirty, while also working from a set of algorithmically defined rules. The vases do not offer a visual representation their building environment but they are uniquely generated from those environments. And the design of the vases, I have to admit, is something that I would like to improve to make this point clearer. I would be eager to use sensor data to create these vases (for instance, maybe the wind direction and speed could control the direction and how tight the twist in the vase is). So, I would agree that this is not an accurate representation existing plein air traditions. Instead, the project lies somewhere between plein air (because you are in the world), 3D printing (because you're creating physical versions of digital models like a 3D printer) as well as other contemporary art traditions like instruction-based art (because your following the instructions defined by a machine) and site-specific art (because the object produced is uniquely generated from the site of production). </p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: I am a PhD student at the UC Berkeley School of Information researching new ways to interact with digital fabrication machines and technologies. I studied ... More »
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