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assignment 01

rapid prototype assemblage

My project is a critique on our country’s widespread use of combined sewer overflow pipes. As someone who has done a bit of research on this topic and typically designs alternatives and solutions to the unfortunate reality, I thought it important to bring to light the problems with the way we traditionally treat our stormwater.

As defined by the EPA, a combined sewer overflow (CSO) is a remnant of our country’s early infrastructure. Prior to reaching the level of urbanism we see today, communities built sewer systems that combine surface runoff with sanitary sewage in the same pipe. During dry weather, this combination of water is transported from the sewer pipe system directly to a water treatment facility. During storm events, however, the water is deposited into nearby natural waterways (rivers, lakes, streams).

Essentially, the problem is that we are dumping untreated stormwater, human waste, and toxic materials into our water.

This causes issues for both the wildlife that lives in these waterways (if you have ever heard of high mercury levels in shellfish/fish, this is why) and for us. CSO outflow pipes lead to the beaches and river banks we often take leisure on. The toxins and sediment in the water also has the potential to circle back to our drinking water.

outflow pipe on a beach

These two points are what really drove my design process. Given that CSO’s lead to places we typically rest, relax, and play by, I chose to represent the tube-like form of a CSO as waterslide. My plan is to 3D print this tube, but its form could prove challenging to print cleanly. On one end of the waterslide is a found piece of PVC filled with found trash that would have otherwise ended up in the Olentangy. To emulate water, I plan on laser cutting pieces of black acrylic into teardrop/water droplet like shapes. On one of the water droplets at the beginning of the PVC pipe, I plan to engrave the word “CLEAN” to call to question the quality of the water we’re knowingly and willingly imposing on our waterways. On the other end of the slide is a child looking up to the sky with their mouth open, as if catching snowflakes. I chose to do this to further emphasize the danger of the CSO as it relates to play/leisure as well as consumption.

While CSO’s are in the process of being phased out in major cities, they are still in use today (there are actually signs along the Olentangy Trail alerting you of outflow pipes. Don’t touch the water in the Olentangy after it rains.)

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project 2b: remix renders

My scenes are meant to work in conjunction with each other. They are meant to ask the question of “When our civilization ceases to exist, how will we be remembered? Will it be the physical objects we leave behind? Or will it be the digital artifacts we’ve created?”

I was only able to get two scenes rendered due to the amount of time it took to render each one.

I knew I wanted to crate a rather dystopian scene to touch on this point. I collected different models from the BuckeyeBox colletion, TurboSquid, Free3D, and Archive3D. I then assembled them into a scene from a dilapidated bedroom. I wanted the place to look abandoned, so I populated the room with fallen chairs, shoes, socks, clothing items, cans, cracked glass, peeling wood, dirt smudges, crooked paintings– whatever I could find really. I imagined the person that lived there would be pretty particular about the way their desk was arranged– rather than the cracked glass/shards and dirt on the keyboard/cup, I kept the arrangement of the desk pretty neat. I wanted it to look like whoever lived in the space was suddenly removed while in the middle of something.

My initial intention was to have the second scene be on the computer monitor in the first scene. However, it did not render the way it was shown in the preview. I am currently rendering a new version that does not have the cracked glass texture on top in hopes of the image showing through. In the updated version I have also changed the wall texture to a plain plaster wall with a few smudges of dirt as I thought the peeling wood was distracting.

The second scene, though a stark departure from the first, is meant to echo a similar sentiment. In this scene, I really wanted to channel the vaporwave aesthetic. Reaching the peak of its popularity in the early-mid 2010’s, vaporwave was highly influenced by rampant globalization, consumerism, and manufactured nostalgia. I see vaporwave as a coping mechanism of sorts. It’s like a form of escapism. I wanted my scene to channel exactly that. I wanted it to be a somewhat familiar yet surreal. We will never see a perfectly geometric pastel landscape with disproportionate digital and physical artifacts floating around, but the scene incorporates elements we see day to day, grounding it in some familiarity. I wanted to include a mix of digital artifacts (the mouse cursor, the 3D modeled head, the plush I’ve chosen to show as a character rather than a physical object) depicted alongside both historic artifacts (the column) and physical objects from more recent years (the flash drive, disk, game controller, tv, etc). Though the scene uses imagery and objects often seen in vaporwave, they are arranged in disarray, rather than in a specified order. I imagined that the individual from the first scene would have used the aesthetic as his escape from the reality he lived in.

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LINKS TO OBJECTS USED: computer, CPU, and desk, earbuds, office chair, disk + game controller, lamp, Starbucks cup, boots, sock, anime poster 1, retro TV, pastel paint background, cursor, usb cable, head, pocket radio, flash drive, Corinthian pillar, tree 1, tree 2, broken glass, wood, metal, dirt textures

project 2a: found objects and models

The five items I chose are all things that I’ve had easy access to in quarantine– they’re things I already had on hand and did not need to leave my building for. When choosing items, I gravitated towards “cutesy” and pastel-colored items (usually featuring animals). I’m not entirely clear on which direction I am going with this project, but I’m going to try to play off the fact that my items all have the same general vibe to them. For the final project, I plan to utilize models from online archives in addition to the five I’ve made myself.

assignment 1c: object

Fabricating this project and bringing it to life was definitely the part of the assignment that came most naturally to me. I first 3D printed the top “tube” portion of the sculpture. I then measured my piece of cinderblock and altered the bottom of the “blob” portion of the sculpture so it would fit. I then sanded, filled, and primed both 3D printed pieces. I positioned the tube and blob together, attached with superglue, and filled in gaps with air dry clay. Once secure, I then fixed the bottom of the blob to the cinderblock with superglue and hot glue. I decided to use the hot glue to add additional drips and blobs so the sculpture looked more cohesive.

Once the form of the sculpture was complete, I thought about ways of getting it to look purposeful rather than collaged together with clay and hot glue. I decided I wanted to emulate an oil spill on the blob, as oils/greases are often present in road runoff and sewer overflows.

I am not a painter; so it took a while to figure out how to effectively emulate an oil spill. I chose to utilize watered down acrylic paints mixed in cups and poured over the surface of the sculpture. Covering the entire sculpture took multiple rounds of pouring, so keeping colors consistent was a bit difficult. I then decided to cover the blob (and the beginning “drips” attached to the tube) with multiple coats of high gloss varnish I had from a previous project. If I could go back and redo anything, however, I would likely spend the money on a better gloss, as the one I used kept leaving bubbles on the surface of the model. However, given the subject matter of the piece, I am not too hung up over it looking a little messy and rough around the edges.

The final steps in fabrication were laser cutting the small scale people/warning sign as well as attaching the trash.

assignment 1b: renders

Rendering this piece proved to be more difficult than I initially thought. I faced a learning curve with diverging from software I’m familiar with, and struggled as the two programs (Rhino and Cinema4D) were similar in some ways and vastly different in others. I ultimately ended up modeling the initial “CSO outflow pipe” and its attached droplets in Rhino and the everything else in Cinema 4D. I did my best to integrate textures, images, and text in my render, however I am not satisfied with the final product and will likely continue to tweak this digital model moving forward.

To make my project easier to render and construct, I ended up omitting the original “water slide” idea and opted instead for a cascade of blobs. My thought was that the drops near the mouth of the pipe would be more geometric and rigid, leading in to a progression to more organic/”blobby” forms that spill onto a found piece of cinder block. I still have the spirit of the waterslide in the photos of children playing and sliding down the blobby cascade, but I have chosen to leave the explicit “twisty water slide” form behind.