Physical code

There seems to be an interesting trend happening in the world of creative coding (typified by tools like Processing and Open FrameWorks).

A lot of the established designers in this field have been quick to explore the possibilities of 3D printing, CNC routing, laser cutting and other rapid prototyping techniques. Using these tools, they’re able to turn their code generated forms into beautiful physical objects.

Last year, Karsten Schmidt from Post Spectacular used these methods to create a stunning cover for Print magazine. Schmidt wrote a generative system to ‘grow’ a three-dimentional form which was printed as a physical object at ThingLab. Karsten has outlined his process in detail here.

Casey Reas’ recent work also includes a foray into this territory. His Process 18 objects were on display at the bitforms gallery in New York last year.

One of the nicest examples I’ve seen of this recently is Andreas Nicolas Fischer ‘s A Week in the Life where the artist visualizes his movement with, and use of, his cell phone as a physical sculpture.

With these examples, the artist becomes concerned with the setting up the framework of design rather than involve themselves with the individual, minute, decisions. Instead, these are handled by the machine. It’s a way of working which is reminiscent of conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt where the artist concerned himself with the big picture, and his assistants actually executed the work.