SECRET WHISPERS & TRANSMOGRIFICATIONS
Digital FUTURES World
Workshop 27/06 – 03/07/2020
Garvin Goepel (CUHK)
Keung Shing Fung, Adwin (CUHK)
Chan Tsz Sun, Ovan (CUHK)
Julien Klisz (LEAD)
Augmented Reality (AR) integration into craftsmanship promises a radical overhaul of architecture and design production as it brings computational power directly to people’s fingertips. Yet, with the hand becoming a key component in these computer-numerically-controlled workflows, innate and unpredictable human imprecision, inaccuracy, and error become an inevitable part of the equation.
“Secret Whispers & Transmogrifications” is a workshop organised as part of Tongji University’s Digital FUTURES World global initiative. This initiative organised a series of free online workshop and talks across three different time zones in June 2020, each of which explored an aspect of the potential impact of the Digital on our lives.
Workshop “Secret Whispers & Transmogrifications” challenged the Digital’s obsession with control and precision by seeking beauty in incremental slippage from technologically augmented human craftsmanship. Participants were exposed to both theoretical concepts and practical applications of augmented reality technology integration in design and production workflows by participating in a hands-on “secret whispers” experiment. In this experiment, a set of fourteen digital sculptures was altered through several morphing cycles that oscillate between the analogue and the digital world. This process started with each participant physically modelling a given digital sculpture file from pottery clay, guided by holographic instructions from augmented reality applications on their smartphone. The outcome was 3D-scanned using the smartphone’s high-definition camera and photogrammetry software. Scanned files were then be passed on to the next person for the following cycle. As models were passed on, error and slippage cumulated, resulting in a transmogrification of the original sculpture into a new object with unique properties and qualities effected by its multiple authors. Three cycles were completed, producing a total of 56 sculptures, which were digitally rendered for exhibited here and in the below virtual exhibition space presenting a 360-degree overview of the work.
The final constellation of sculptures aims to provoke and stimulate a debate about the future impact of technology integration on craftsmanship, collaboration, authorship and design intent, proposing that only through incorporation of error and slippage as productive qualities of the design process one can maintain and maximise design agency.
Workshop concept , based on "Chinese Whispers" (image by Jean Julien)
Left: Original sculpture. Middle left: Iteration 1 by Student X. Middle right: Iteration 2 by Student Y. Right: Iteration 3 by Student Z.
1. AR-guided Clay Modelling
Using the software Fologram®, a custom AR application was developed that linked handheld smartphone devices or tablets to a digital working environment in 3D modelling software Rhinoceros®. This application produced holographic guides for the participants that were directly overlaid onto the analogue sculpture during the sculpting process. Sequences of silhouettes and contours were extracted in real-time from the linked digital sculpture and placed atop the analogue clay model. By continuously altering between guides at different positions in X,Y, and Z directions, material could be added or removed layer by layer in a quasi-controlled manner until an analogue interpretation of the digital file was completed.