Getting Physical

One of my projects (number 2) took its first step into the physical world today. I now have the first pieces of the jigsaw in MDF to make a one metre tall sculpture of Vanessa Standing. Each sheet takes about one hour and twenty minutes to cut.

IMG_0098 IMG_0097

Next I need to check that the transfer of my computer model to the laser cutter worked as it should.

There were a few hiccups which Gillian Duffey resolved for me (Thank you Gillian). The transfer of my scanned model to the laser cutter input involved a couple of scaling issues. The first one was my fault as I defined the dimensions of the MDF sheet incorrectly as it did not match the physical sheet. The second was not. The laser cutter system automatically reduced the scale of my model by 1000% and had to be adjusted.


There were some other issues caused by Autodesk 123D MAKE. It left gaps in some of the pieces, and in the drilled holes for the dowels that bind the sculpture together. Fortunately the former were too small to affect the cutting of the pieces, but unfortunately it did not allow the dowel holes to be anything but marked out on the pieces themselves rather than cut through. I have yet to work out what to do about this. Perhaps I will just use them as markers to position the pieces and glue them together without the dowels.

Finally the edges of the cut pieces are dark brown, almost black. This is normal for the laser cutter when applied to MDF or wood. I did not know this before. Alex May recommends that Projection Mapping works best on a very light gray surface. I will have to consider this too. I will carry out a Projection test later and if it does not work well then I will have to spray paint the pieces before I glue them together.

I can now move on to making Vanessa’s head. Or at least I will be able to do so when Gillian cuts the second already prepared sheet. Hopefully this will be ready on Wednesday.

I also made progress with my other project (number 1). Tim Harrison in the Digital Media Department helped me to see which were the best recorder settings from the tests he recommended previously, which I carried out last week. He also split the recordings into two short pieces on two SD Cards ready for my test with the SD Card Readers attached to the Arduino (Thank you Tim). It was important to remember that whilst the recordings were made in MAV format (the best option) the SD Cards needed to be in MP3 as that is what is expected by the pre-programmed Arduino from Bare Conductive.


I am now ready to test a mini canvas using Conductive Paint connected to the Arduino and the SD Card Readers with some of Vanessa’s recordings. I have also given Vanessa some directions insofar as the type of recording required, as we now have almost enough reflective material. We need some recordings about herself and others relating her feelings towards various parts of her body being touched in the full sized minimalist painting. Vanessa is now working on this for our next studio session on 19 November.

Overall a very successful day.

PS The dowel holes came out OK the following day, and the dowel passed through them easily. So now I only have to see if they line up properly.


Gillian emailed and the next sheet with the rest of the parts to make Vanessa’s head are ready to collect tomorrow. So I can now assemble her head and see whether it has all worked out as planned.

Only 5 more sheets to go and I will have all 244 parts ready to assemble into the full one metre high sculpture.

1 thought on “Getting Physical

  1. Pingback: Unit 1 Assessment | terencemquinn91

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