Experiential Extensions Series - Looking at Clouds




About: www.edwardjohnston.co

Hi everyone! My name is Ed Johnston, and I will be walking you through an Instructable of my creative process, which involves turning a virtual item into a tangible object. The Experiential Extensions Series is an ongoing body of work in which I mark moments of my existence through complex, aesthetic means. It involves exploration, photography, three-dimensional modeling, and digital fabrication. The first image depicts the process of formulating and generating the digital design of an Experiential Extension, and the second shows the physical sculpture digitally fabricated from that design. In the following steps, I will run through my process of constructing one Variation within my Looking At Clouds Series.  

Step 1: Experiential Extensions Step 1: Collecting

First, I take photographs of curious shapes that I see in my surrounding environment while going on walks. Then, I highlight these areas using image-editing software. You can see a series of these photographs and highlighted regions here.

Step 2: Experiential Extensions Step 2: Organizing Time-space

After the walks, I stack the photographs using 3-D computer graphics software. Then, I create a distance between each image in that stack proportionally to the time at which I took each photograph. This creates a virtual column of floating photographs, which resembles the floors of a building or perhaps walls between apartments. This arrangement provides a modular system where each photograph becomes an object that could be moved and rearranged.

Step 3: Experiential Extensions Step 3: Extruding Variations

After stacking and spacing the photographs, I extrude a surface through the collected shapes in each photograph, creating a virtual pathway or tunnel. Depending on my extrusion method, these forms can resemble vines, flowing water, and sometimes buildings.

Quite often, I return to my modular setups of shapes and spaces to construct Variations, which formally express thoughts related to concepts of time, including the growth of human memory throughout life and scientific theories regarding existence. Quite often, I use animation to realize these Variations. Examples of this can be seen in my Walking Around Ann Arbor Series on my website. 

Step 4: Experiential Extensions Step 4: Translating Virtual to Physical

Finally, I take these virtual forms from the computer and fabricate them as physical objects using 3-D printing machines. This specific example is fabricated in a nylon material. Other printing materials that I have explored in other pieces include bronze, steel, photopolymers, and plaster powder. The physical objects become static representations of fluid experience, crystallizations of human feeling. They allow me to slow down, be conscious of moments through recollection, and find beauty in that series of experiences. 

Collectively, the images, virtual models, animations, and physical objects that make up these Variations of Experiential Extensions highlight the human desire to mark moments of everyday experience as meaningful. Furthermore, the process of moving through various media in these Variations stands as a metaphor for the translation of our physical world into mental space and then back out into our constructed environments. The images seen in this process are from the Looking At Clouds Series. More images and information on this work can be found on my following website: www.edwardjohnston.co

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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 2

    "using 3-D computer graphics software" - which package are you using?

    Nice idea!

    1 reply

    Thanks! For this variation, I used Autodesk Maya to design the forms and Materialise Magics to prepare the design for fabrication. I know other people who have had success with Rhino in order to accomplish similar processes.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    outstanding!! I toyed with cloud sculpture in my art classes at UCLA. I juxtaposed geometric shapes against efemeral shapes in nature. The technology you are using brings that idea into great focus. keep up the good work.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    beautiful work. I deal in a different 3D world...geology.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is a really beautiful and interesting visualization. Thanks for sharing how you make these models.