The Vice-Chancellor’s College Visiting Artist Fellows Scheme (VCCVAFS) is an exciting new initiative developed by the Australian National University in 2012 to encourage and celebrate interdisciplinary research. Each year six artists are funded to work collaboratively with researchers across a wide range of disciplines in the ANU Colleges and to produce creative and experimental outcomes. These exhibitions are the first in what will become a regular program, bringing the results of the collaborations into public view with the aim of stimulating discussion about the multiple roles of visual arts and practice-led research at ANU and beyond.
Because of the fantastic opportunity provided by VCCAFS I have been able to further experiment with my time-lapse data of mung beans and alfalfa through 3D printing. The Department has a Z-Printer 650 which prints exactly as a colour inkjet, but over fine layers of chalk powder. The resulting 3D colour objects are then sealed with resin. The first experiments I have created are the beginning of thinking about how this project might progress. Printed objects immediately become static, but by using the transfer functions in Drishti and experimenting with overlaying the data volumes, I am starting to see some unusual results.
In my first print, the time-lapse stack each sequential moment of the mung bean sprouting is printed on top of another. This is a very simple model and orders each timeframe in a very linear structure, but it made me think about how to push these experiments in less conventional forms. Because the datasets I am using are not created with conventional mesh framing, the virtual data is extremely organic. The beans and alfalfa sprouts are very fragile so printing them off as small sculptures is problematic as the little leaves and stems break away.
To contain the structures, I started implementing disks of solid data. It was only when I printed them out that I realised they had started to take the shape of culture dishes. This was not intentional but I like the effect. The colour is also an additional element that I apply in Drishti before printing. I would like to see how the data translates in a range of colours but to start with I selected a lurid green to highlight the artificial quality of the prints, rather than trying to pretend to be realistic.
The beauty of virtual data is that multiple volumes can be overlaid before they are prepared for printing. This way the data becomes fluid and I can overlay various time sequences in different stages of development at various angles.I can see how through this process time-lapse data can be visualised back into physical 3D models in very different ways. The possibilities are endless