Monday, July 27, 2009

more like schmigital fabrication

in my typical being on top of things fashion i have delayed my first post by nearly half my stay in switzerland...but hopefully i can make up for it a bit now.

luckily for me tom has already outlined the work we are doing at in the gramazio + kohler digital fabrication group at the eth a bit, where ive been working since mid june. for better or worse, mostly better i think, ive encountered a working situation quite alien to what expectations id formed before arriving in zurich. ive been mostly working on the new york project that tom described (a robotically assembled undulating brick wall for a gallery in manhattan) the work for which has been a bit mixed...there was a two day period for example where i cut swiss bricks by hand in a factory in rural switzerland for a prototype which required simulated american bricks...another two days where i manually fed bricks into a conveyor belt for a different prototype and squeezed plastic levelers underneath its base layers to keep them steady over an uneven ground surface...the theme here apparently being that often much complexity and even manual labor is actually created or exacerbated rather than eliminated by these digital fabrication techniques that are often touted for their assumed ability to streamline design and construction processes.

brick saw!/ mr tom stewart with robot

this week i am starting a new project (partly because they just found out their insurance at the eth wont allow us thinkswiss types to operate the robot once its in new york because the govt wont issue us work visas)...which is a commission from a dutch architect/planner to reinterpret a set of paintings that madelon vriesendorp made for another well known dutch architecture firm (she had an exhibit devoted to her work in switzerland recently, which i missed bc im a dummy: into large scale sculptures for an installation in rotterdam, which will be 5 axis milled using our institute's robotic arm. quite a strange assignment actually given the scope of the work that the group usually does, but in this case it is strange in a pretty interesting way i think. my main task will be to develop a process which can realize the figures at a certain level of abstraction which will allow for the sculptures to be both legible as manifestations of the vriesendorp paintings but also relatively imprecise enough in detail for the pieces to be realizable on a tight time schedule. also it should be better for this blog now that tom and i wont both be making brick-centric posts all the time.

outside of the institute ive been having the summer it seems most everyone else is having, lots of trips exploring switzerland, lots of biking and hiking, lots of not buying anything because everything is so ridiculously expensive...this past weekend i took a day trip to austria (where i bought 5 euros worth of food and ice cream that would have cost me 20 francs in zurich btw) to see a peter zumthor museum/antony gormley exhibit in bregenz, and the next day went on a hike from adelboden/engstligenalp to kandersteg, with really perfect weather the whole day for a change (note the current spontaneous downpour after a full day of clear sky for those in zurich at the moment).

gormley exhibit / ascent from engstligenalp

looking forward to meeting everyone in bern this week...


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