For the Spring of 2014, the focus of this course will be one on digitally re-inventing the analogue technique of “kitbashing” to, as a class, produce a single large-format 3d-printed volume or room. The seminar is funded at a significant level by Autodesk (@$40,000) towards this end. As the final design allows, we may also CNC mill portions of the volume or room in solid Carerra marble through an ongoing affiliation with the Digital Stone Project. As part of the latter there will be the opportunity for one student to study digital stone carving in Tuscany to further develop a portion of the project for one month over the summer, as was the case with last year’s seminar. No prerequisites or particular digital skills are required for this course. Enrollment limited to 10.
Kitbashing originally emerged from the hobby of plastic model building, and involves using pieces from multiple model kits, glued together in unexpected arrangements in order to produce objects that seem strange and otherworldly. This technique was adopted heavily by designers of 1970’s science fiction films such as Alien, Star Wars, Blade Runner and numerous other films that predate the emergence of digital special effects. We will be digitally “kitbashing” in much the same way as these early special effects pioneers-- by relying on existing forms that are radically recombined, but also mutated, fused and mistreated in novel and creative ways. For us this involves not plastic model kits and glue, but the 3d scanning of found objects using our smartphones, and the downloading of existing objects from large online object sharing clearinghouses. We will kitbash these objects by organizing them in vast numbers and forcibly manipulating and mutating them into massive figural arrays which read texturally.
We will be collaborating with the software company Autodesk for this venture, and they will be providing us with funding, instruction and access to their new Fusion 360 and 123D programs. We will use these tools synergistically to do everything from scanning existing objects with our smart phones and creatively re-sculpting them, to seamlessly producing and combining mechanical and biological languages using modeling tools such as t-splines, mesh fusing, solid bodies, and assemblies. As the final design allows, we may also CNC mill portions of the room in solid Cararra alongside additional support from Autodesk in the form of access to their CAM 360 tools. The software tools used in this course are powerful, but intuitive, and accordingly no particular software skills are required to enroll.
Historic Position of Course
From the Latin rusticationem, and originally defining an unsophisticated rural mentality, the term rustication is used to describe architecture’s most extreme category of surface textures. If, historically, architectural rustication was seen as a less refined manner of shaping material that subsequently retained a rough texture, then the twenty-first-century condition would be the exact reverse. Rustication now takes more effort rather than less, and skill is measured in moving away from architectural smoothness instead of toward it. With the ability to kitbash figures and forms at increasingly complex scales of resolution, this seminar revisits the topic of rustication, where architects use new tools to design, in this case the Fusion 360 and 123D programs, to design unapologetically contemporary textures and forms. Students study methods of rustication throughout history and use this research as a foundation to design and produce, again through techniques of kitbashing, a single, heavily figured and rusticated 3d printed volume.