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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Down-Under Thunder...

Getting into a Down-under state of mind...

I'm off for a few days to Australia, where I've been invited to visit and give a lecture at Griffith University in Queensland. This is very exciting as I've never been down-under before. Getting there, however, will inevitably entail that a substantial section of my total travel time will be spent in transit, as just the trip over will require over twenty hours in planes and airports. Let's hope the time spent at 'elevated heights' will rub off and also heighten the calibre of the submissions for this blog...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Project Recap No. 8 - Gustatory Folly...

Some of the vernacular elements affecting the ingestion of the tidbit...


This is a project of 'what ifs'. What if one switched the colour cartridges on the Z Corp’s Z510 System (a 3D Rapid Prototyping 'printer') to distribute flavours instead of colours? And, what if, instead of using an epoxy as a binder use something digestible, perhaps a glucose mix or a digestible polymer, to bind the powder particles together. These ideas are not too far fetched as similar techniques have been used in the customization of pills, which can be made bespoke to a particular individuals medical needs and, as this particular three dimensional printer (3DP) uses either a gypsum or starch based material, the latter which is edible, to fabricate its objects, it lends itself very naturally for the fabrication of something to be experienced through gustatory means.

The tidbit interacting with its setting...

The project was also interested in touching upon the idea of food consumption as entertainment, or as an experiential event. As much of what we eat, particularly today, has very limited nutritional value. Candies, pastries, soda-pop, various titbits and sweet-meats, as well as different ‘diet’ product which boast about their lack of calories and nutrition, all involve oral intakes which are much more about the experience of consuming flavours and textural compositions rather than their dietary attributes. They are, in a sense, more about a limbic and (flavour based) aesthetic craving than a dietary necessity. A case of a more folly-esque, sensory and sensual experience, than a utilitarian one. It is within this realm the ‘Gustatory Folly’ dwells. It endeavoured to explore the gustatory qualities through the use of a specific additive fabrication process which allows for an edible piece to be built. It also examines the literal process of digestion of the design - how different flavours can be released, intermingled and sequenced.

A chart breaking down the various elements of the tidbit's digestion - dispensation of flavours, pace of mastication, release and quantity of saliva, swallowing, etc.

Using the model a new design can be envisaged. Taking the standard CMYK colours, used in a printing process Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, and replacing them with the generic flavours of Salty, Sweet, Bitter and Sour, and with the doughy nuance of Umami (sometimes considered the fifth flavour) added as an gustative catalyst, one could add a new idiom into the annals of conceiving things through additive fabrication.

A sectional view of the tidbit's, layer by layer, digestion...
These flavours would be applied into a multi-layered ‘architectural-tidbit’ (a chewable and digestible item) you put in your mouth, the 'site' onto/ into which the brief is applied. Here the gustatory logistics are analyzed from a more spatial, procedural, mechanical, tactile, olfactory, and culturally semiotic (architectural) tack. This entails exploring how the various layers of the tidbit will dissolve and collapse, and how they consequently blend and interact with each other. The project also considers how saliva, the pace of mastication and breathing, the motility of the tongue, and how the disparate flavours and senses would commingle and interact.


Stereolithography rendition of the Gustatory Tidbit...

An initial stereolithography (inedible and sour tasting) model was produced to get an physical manifestation of the tidbit. Its size, weight, texture and consistency seem, on the surface, appropriate, and according to initial expectations. However, further testing is needed to bring about a satisfactory example of the tidbit which would allow for a more truthful assessment to take place. The process also benefited (the charting of the mingling flavours and the reflected physical aspects of the tidbit) from the more adaptable sequencing of the Avaterial* model, which in its suppleness and interlinking of the conceptual and the physical fabrication aspect managed to converge into a coherent experience.

*Avaterial - is a portmanteau of the words 'Avatar' and 'Material' and describes the somewhat vague realm that digital fabrication occupies today, where the formative properties of a material can be re-configured through computing based means, usually through manipulating it at a minute level, to give it a bespoke set of attributes.
The Gustatory Tidbit is a part of the Sensory Follies - alongside the Fragrant (Olfactory) Follies (the Fragrant Tower & Fragrant Cocoon) and the Tactile Follies (Finger Run [click also here] and Snakeskin)...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

London Underground - Queen's Ann Grove...


A few images form a project on site in London. It's interesting how different building sites look in different parts of the world. The materials, structural systems, workers, weather, the colours and smells...


Above and below - a few sections of the residential project...


All images by Paul Brady and the London office...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Old School CAD-CAM...



The image above is from the August 1955 issue of Popular Science. It provides a sequential breakdown, and a droll guesstimate, of the role NC technologies might play one day. Strangely enough, when talking about various of today's CAD-CAM processes, the way their future is predicted is not that different. Now of course we can also include the various additive processes (rapid prototyping/ rapid manufacturing) which in themselves have by now been available as commercial products for over two decades, into the equation. However, even though by now having been around for over half a century, these technologies, and the inherent capacities and potentials they possess, are still not fully understood, and often considered the new kids on the block. This is particularly the case here in the Gulf, where there are piecemeal examples of related fabricators, but no larger, more varied or concentrated, service providers. The same also applies to Kuwait's various universities, which none have a dedicated CAD-CAM lab available for either student or research use. This needs to change, as, even though still a predominantly unexplored discipline, the use of CAD-CAM has by now become the norm rather than the exception at most international institutions of higher learning. We should be leading related research rather than catching up. Kuwait has the talent, know-how and financial ability to achieve this, with a bit of concerted effort and dedication there is nor reason this can't be so already in the immediate future. If the 1.5 billion dollar KAUST could be conceived from scratch in less than two years, the least we could do here in Kuwait is develop a cutting-edge fabrication research institution. It would be a worthwhile start from which to expand into other related fields - from architecture and design into mechanical engineering, civil & building engineering, IT, material science, etc.

(The source of the above image is a past posting on rpml)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Favourite Buildings Visited - Seurasaari, Finland...


Seurasaari (direct translation from Finnish - Company/ Companionship Island) isn't strictly a building, but a collective of traditional Finnish, usually wooden, buildings gathered onto an island on the outskirts of Helsinki. They range in age from late 1600 to early 20th century. Currently the island, classified as an open-air museum, contains approximately 85 buildings assembled from all around the country. Visiting Seurasaari (Fölisö in Swedish) has become an annual event for me and my family, which with its clusters of buildings and animals (the island is also the home of sheep, red-squirrels, swans, and very loud and arrogant seagulls) contains an unique ambiance particular to this place. The interiors of the buildings hold a special attraction, usually made of a tight-knitted cluster of rooms, which are filled with a subtly paced, saturated light, that gets caught, and slowed down, by the porous, often ash gray, log walls. In quality the light of these spaces carry the mien of Vermeer, and the immersed shadows of Tanizaki...

The sequentially covered pedestrian bridge connecting the island to the mainland...

A food storage hut from the north of Finland (Lapland)...

A small house in the traditional red and white so common to the Nordic countries...

Above and below - A wooden church and a detail (candle-holder) from its interior...


Above and below - A few residential interiors...

Above - A pair of shoes made out of weaved tree bark...


Above and below - Examples of domestic paraphernalia...