Digital has brought us two revolutions before, that led to enormous leaps in efficiency. First in communication, then in computation. Today we are in the middle of the third, and potentially most influential digital revolution; that of fabrication. But what happens when this streak of digitisation starts to affect our physical world of materials?
Digital fabrication processes are increasingly allowing us to design our materials, but the physical results remain analogue; continuous and solid. What if we could assemble these materials with small separate building blocks that can be used again in other configurations - like the way LEGO bricks are re-used to form new structures, or atoms are re-used to form new molecules? As digital processes can be reversed; could the fabrication of an object then be ‘undone’? Neil Gershenfeld and his research group at the Centre for Bits and Atoms at MIT are quite seriously working towards this poetic future of digital materials. Their work has been the main inspiration for this project.
When Digital Gets Physical is an ongoing research project exploring applications of digital materials at different scales. The laws of digital building offer huge potential in terms of structural efficiency and material re-use, and this project is looking to deploy that potential in present-day contexts. As the first outcome of this journey, this piece is meant to visualize the concept of digital material and translate its core principles to physical shape. The chair is assembled from aluminium tetrahedrons and spheres, that - when tightened by the inner cables - form a lightweight octet truss lattice, inspired by the way atoms form crystallic structures. When the tension is released, the shape disappears and the ‘material’ returns to its initial state; ready to be reconfigured.
The development of this chair was done in collaboration with After-Form.
Visit the Website: www.ddw.nl/en/event/1381