Friday, 27 April 2012

Bridging the Gaps 1

Dirty Digital: A Bridging the Gap experiment


I have kindly been invited by sculptor and reader in Fine Art at Loughborough University,
John Atkin to participate in the Bridging the Gap project; a research endeavour that seeks to unite the expertise and creative ideas of a diverse range of disciplines at the university.

The Interdisciplinary Design Team (IDT), that includes staff from fine art, design and technology, manufacturing engineering, chemistry, material science and other departments are trying to address how strategies may be designed to bridge the gaps between accepted norms of research culture. In so doing, they seek to address how research in one specialist research department can have a sustained impact on a separate department? And amongst other questions, how can this feed the grassroots culture of learning & teaching and foster a synthesised approach to the Arts & Sciences?

The research is funded by the EPSRC to support people-based activities centred on novel approaches to cross-disciplinary interaction and collaboration.


The aim of my Dirty Digital project is to explore the sculptural interface between the digital and analogue, and to ascertain the consequences of repeatedly passing geometry from one realm to another. This will naturally entail a multi-disciplinary approach uniting areas including ceramics, fine art, animation, design and technology, manufacturing engineering and if viable, chemistry and material science.

A secondary aim is to undermine the tendency of virtually generated form to be slick and what might be described as ‘perfect’: in other words, to get some digital dirt under the fingernails.

Stage One – A starting point

To make a series of almost anti-sculptures with ‘undefined’ geometry, or at least, geometry that in its production has not been subject to excessive control, subject instead to the whims of chance and happenstance. The intent is to apply the sculptural equivalent of the lead guitarist’s distortion pedal; with a good starting point being the unctuous joys of expanding foam. 

Splodge art to digital

Produced in a series of ‘squirts’, each form has been built up sequentially, playing with and distorting the viscous foam as its skin sets, at which point it can be manipulated into geometry that moves in 3D space. The latter being a possibility not open when first squirted onto the ground. Pouring water from a height and hand slapping being further means of distorting the setting foam. 


Splurge function not available in Maya

Next Stage

1: Studies splattered in wax or plaster, with casual surface definition.

2. Studies composed from layers of plywood (itself made up of strata – thus visually linked to layered RP production).

The intent in both cases is to create form and surface that would be unlikely to emerge if modelled in CAD software. Digital 3D scanning will allow these rough forms to emerge in the virtual world, where deformers and manipulators can be applied before outputting through rapid-prototyping.

For more information on the activites of the Bridging the Gap team see:

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