Grading/Assignments overview

Assignment 1 = 25 points (Anthropogenic Stalactites) Designing, 3D modeling, rendering, printing, framing and posting to your blog.

Assignment 2 = 20 points (RPA Rapid Prototype Assemblage) (Found object, rapid prototyped object, photo, and text) Designing, 3D modeling, Laser cutting, rapid prototyping, constructing and posting to your blog.

Assignment 3 = 25 points (Transpecies Growth, Virtual/Real/experiential Skins, virtual sculpture/installation) Conceptualizing, sketching, researching, designing, 3D modeling. Not required though possible are laser cutting, rapid prototyping and stop-motion video documentation in creating a final project and posting to your blog.

Class participation = 10 points

Research, reading, and writing on your blog = 10 points

Participation in Final Exhibition = 10 points

Assignment 1 (Anthropogenic Stalactites) Designing, 3D modeling, rendering, 2D printing, documenting and posting to your blog.

Critical issues about the use of plastic and the article here: Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin’s book Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments, and Epistemologies

Procedure/Protocol: Collect 5 junk objects of any kind from the street, trash can or at a thrift store, or from your home collection if you like.  They must not be greasy or toxic and no larger than 3 feet in any direction. Things like cans, glasses and other things commonly found tend to be boring. Try and find objects that have a sense of history or cultural dialogue. Do not bring any bottle of any sort, alcohol or container as one of the objects.

Anything you bring from a thrift store must be cleaned, washed and disinfected before you bring it into the school for modeling. Use your calipers (we will supply these) to measure the objects and you can draw in your sketchbook, or translate live into the software as you model the works on the computer. Take these five modeled objects and place them in the context of the natural environment they are infecting and inhabiting.

Create one 12 x 16-inch print of a render in consultation with the professor. These will be in advance of larger prints on the 2D printers for the final exhibition of the Anthropogenic Stalactites on the 2D printer for the final exhibition. That printer is located in 380A.

Look at an example of actual installations by:

David Mach

Shows the use of multiples to make a statement about over-consumption.

Edward Burtynsky 

Further frames the conceptual aspects of this project in the enormity of the environmental impacts of human consumption.

John Gerrard 

Shows the value of being able to accurately 3D model an environment so a suspension of disbelief is evident.

Questions to ponder: How are the objects I have chosen related to the natural environment? Do they derive substance from the environment or change it in some way? Where do these materials end up in our biological worlds? Are they changing our natural world?

Past student examples:

after crit student changed project

Anthropogenic Stalactites

Jenny Holzer

Assignment 2: RPA (Rapid Prototype Assemblage) Conceptualizing, designing, sketching, 3D modeling, laser cutting, rapid prototyping, constructing, writing about, documenting the work and posting to your blog.

The assignment is inspired by John Baldessari’s video link as he died on Jan 5, 2020, and this assignment is in honor of his extraordinary artistic career. John Anthony Baldessari was an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s. He had large collections of movie stills to draw from.

Procedure/Protocol: Conceptualize, research and then do three high-quality pencil drawings in your sketchbook thinking about how you can use your art/science research agenda and the tools of 3d modeling, laser cutting and rapid prototyping on our 3D printers to create a relationship between a text you choose, an object you find, and an image and object you model and rapid prototype.

Add at least a few paragraphs and well-researched writing with keywords in your blog. Post links to at least a few artists or scientists, that you found inspirational to this blog proposal and design.

Do you say you cannot draw? Here is how! Here is how important it is.

The secret of drawing. Watch how drawing can change the world.

The three sketches are to be 1) perspective view 2) top view and 3) side view of the OBJECTS TEXT WORK collage to be clearly defined.

Update your sketching abilities by watching this tutorial. 

Critical questions as you imagine your design: What is the scale of the work?  Will, you make your own text or use an existing text? Will you rapid prototype the text or use the vinyl cutter? What will the font be? How might the font determine or create meaning? Will the text be in English or some other language? Will you use an acronym? YOLO, LOL, etc or an iconic image of some sort? Will the image be from a film, game or contemporary photo you find or take?

How will the object you find impact the meaning of the work?  Will it confuse or clarify the work? How do the materials it is constructed of, impact the meaning of work? How might form, color, and site, play a role in this work? Is there potential socio/political or art/science implications of what you are doing and proposing? How will the way you attach the works affect the meaning of the work? For the object, you model, and rapid prototype, or laser cut effect and interact with the other implied meanings in the objects?

Does your work reference other things metaphorically? With the text or object being wooden, and the 3D modeled object rapid-prototyped being plastic or rubber, what are the environmental concerns and life cycle of each object, and what are the manufacturing exchanges?

Will you paint your object or 3d printed object? What kind of skin might you imagine on your object? Will it be alive, dead or decaying or a process work?

Think about additive growth or subtractive processes in making this. What color monofilament will you use? Will the four objects come together in unexpected ways? Will you light the interior of your project or will it move in some way?

Limits. We have purchased some vinyl and a single sheet of 1/8 inch 12 x 12-inch baltic birch plywood, so plan accordingly in how you use the material. We also have purchased monofilament in clear and this is partially paid by your class fees.

Process: Think outside of the box (pun intended) and imagine your work. Take chances and do not be afraid to ask seemingly silly questions. Find play.

Projects are to be conceptualized, researched, sketched, modeled, laser-cut, glued, rapid prototyped, constructed, photo-documented, blogged about and critiqued. If you are making a work that fits a particular context such as site then the site can be a part of the model.

Example of a conceptual work by Ken Rinaldo that would meet this assignment.

Them, They, US, by Ken Rinaldo 2019
Them, They, US, by Ken Rinaldo 2019

Software/machines; we will use in this project: c4D, Illustrator, Laser cutter, rapid prototyping machines, vinyl cutter.

Use an 8 1/2 x 12 archival paper sketchbook for three sketches of RPA (Rapid Prototype Assemblage) coming together. The Image, text, found object and modeled and 3D prototyped objects coming together may be ideas and research that engages your individual interests.

Other Artists Examples:

Joseph Kosuth One and Three Chairs

Student works to show approach on their blogs, and the quality of their sketches, though their assignment was different.

Song Chow

Abbie Zimmer

Lincoln Ficek

Assignment 1 technical links: 

Laser Cutting Resources

Here are some web apps and online generators that create plans/files ready for laser cutting.  A few of these I’ve known for years but much more come from The Ultimate Guide To Laser-Cut Box Generators (Instructable by SparkItUp).  Note that most of these will output files in SVG format, a common vector-based file format readable by most software (including Adobe Illustrator) used for graphics, fabrication, and laser cutting.


MakerCase. My favorite for simple boxes.  Tell it your dimensions and outcomes a box ready to laser cut.  There’s also ConnectionLab and

Festi web interface.  Many curved and fancy styles of boxes, trays, drawers, shelves, and more can be generated.  I haven’t used it yet but it looks very promising.

Joinery.  (Instructable here)  Very interesting online tool to generate joints of all kinds to edges – not just finger joints, but suitable joints for laser cut fabric, cardboard, and paper…!  NOTE: This tool is designed for adding joints to existing non-jointed plans and shapes, not for building plans from scratch.


GearGenerator.  Great tool for creating “involute spur gears“, i.e. gear wheels with interlocking teeth.


SVG Nest.  Trying not to waste expensive acrylic/materials?  Use this tool to pack (“nest”) your pieces into the smallest area possible before laser cutting.

Wolfie’s SVG Puzzle Generator.  Generates jigsaw puzzles.

Choose one of the three projects listed below, A, B or C.

For students taking the course a second time do: 1, 2 or 3 or propose to the professor what you would like to do. 

Assignment 3  A (Trans-species Growth) Designing, 3D modeling,  laser cutting, rapid prototyping, and stop-motion video documentation. 

This will start with 3-quick sketches of 3-different ideas, no matter the choice you make of A, B or C.


Once the student and faculty have determined your idea to pursue: a) Sketch your project three sketches: perspective, side, and top view. b)  3D model c) Render and post to your blog and d) create one 2D print and or rapid prototyped or laser cut work to present at the end of the semester exhibition.

One possible process: Objects can be coated with agar a growth medium and then grown while you do a stop-motion that you record with your phone of that growth. If you use this method: Objects should be small enough to allow you to place in a clear glass jar for the documentation or you can use blown glass or a plastic vitrine and ideally the works must be kept in a dark moist place and out of the sun to allow growth.

Be careful when opening objects to use a dust mask to prevent spores, viruses or other fungi from getting into your nose.

What is PLA plastic? (PLA) is a biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch (in the United States and Canada), cassava roots, chips or starch (mostly in Asia), or sugarcane (in the rest of the world). In 2010, PLA had the second highest consumption volume of any bioplastic of the world.

Artists Examples

http://www.kenrinaldo.comBorderless Bacteria / Colonialist Cash under the projects section

Suzanne Lee: Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing.

Suzanne Anker:  Remote Sensing Series using 3D printers.

Using Fungi to grow materials  Motherboard dives headfirst into the R+D world surrounding the development of fungi as a viable replacement for plastic, and the people who hope it can lead to a better and more sustainable future.

Assignment 3  B (Virtual / Real / Experiential Skins / installations)

Conceptualizing, researching, designing, 3D modeling, rendering, posting to the blog and 2D print and frame.

You can also build the project physically if you like, or virtually and or integrate your models into the Unity Game Engine, with the first-person controller. I do not recommend the Unity focus if you have not done Unity in the past.

Sketches are for a new art installation in a major museum in Helsinki Finland called the Kiasma Museum.

These ideas can fit a broad theme of interactive art, participatory art, VR, installation, material explorations, and then start to conceptualize and imagine what you will build given an unlimited budget.

In discussions with the professor, you will then fully research one of those ideas to add context.

You will then create three high-quality drawings of your concept for the pursuit and creation of the 3D models.

You are required to write and post to your blog a 200-word proposal of what you would like to accomplish with your final piece and this work or project 2 work should be printed on the archival ink printers and framed for the exhibition in Hopkins Hall.

For the drawings, you can use pencil drawings with color in your sketchbook.

Consider first and foremost your audience and the user experience of your work. What do you want them to feel? What do you want them to see? What do you want them to experience? Are their multiple audiences both human and animal?

Artists to consider:

Carsten Höller disturbs his viewers’ assumptions with interactive sculptures that deliberately and playfully induce doubts and confusion. As a former scientist in evolutionary ecology and olfactory communication, Höller uses the audience as subjects of perceptual and psychological experimentation. His work sets out to study a particular concept. In the past, Höller has made series devoted to the ideas of security, children, love, hallucinations, happiness, animals, games, doubt/certainty, and a group of sculpture/vehicles that looked at different modes of travel.

Think about Amy Youngs and her creation of a shell for Hermit Crabs to inhabit:

Iris Van Herpen VOLTAGE

Olafur Eliasson uses light and glass to create transformative perceptual and conceptual works:

Think about Zhang Huan and his meat suit and implied strength as well as the grotesque quality of the work.

Or the Spider Haus by Ken Rinaldo and the artificial plants that allow the spider to inhabit this artificial world: or the Augmented Fish Reality work that allows a fish to drive a robotic fish tank:

Or Nina Katchadorian and her mended webs, which become strange collaborations with spiders:

Think about Carsten Hoeller and his upside-down goggles:

Stelarc is one example of this mode of inquiry and here is a short video of the project Extra Ear:  Stelarcs third hand:

James Turrell uses large-scale installation and light or lack of light to change our perceptual systems. His work encloses the viewer to control and manipulate the way we receive light.

Wim Delvoye:

Ionat Zurr:

Sabrina Raaf:

Assignment 3  C Biophilic design

Objective: To create an object that uses the principles of Biophilic design and is 2D printed and or laser cut or printed on a 3D prototyping machine, as the final output.  Includes 5-renders fully lit and placed in the appropriate context, for presentation during the final crit on your blog.

3 ideas and quick rough sketches of these and then in discussions with the professor will settle on and fully research one of those ideas to further add context. You will then create three highly-detailed drawings of your concept for the pursuit and creation of the 3D models. You are required to turn in a 200 word written proposal of what you would like to accomplish with your final piece and we will go over your proposals to discuss artistic and technical merits.

You should upload these onto your blog at a high enough resolution to fill the computer screen without raster effects. Please do not email these to me.

Research must be a part of this project. i.e., what artists have informed your approach, what art/science movements etc. Be ready to discuss in class, which artists, scientists or philosophers have you researched and which have influenced you and why?

Sketches and a one-page proposal 200 words are a required part of this project once approved.

A good place start is to read this article:

Biophilic Design:  A Review of Principle and Practice

…and to review all the links below.

Key concepts: Symbiosis, living systems, coexistence, sustainability, green living, recycling

For your final presentation, you will be required to print one of your 3D works on a 2D printer in our lab and framed professionally by you or a service. You will be graded on this aspect of the project. Plan on at least one final digital print minimum size 24 x 16 inches or preferably larger, as the scale is an important part of communicating your idea! Please discuss with the professor for larger printouts that can happen on our printers.

While you will be turning in one to two printouts for display in the show and 1-2 rapid-prototyped works you are also required to turn in 5 rendered stills at a minimum size of 1024 x 768 at 72 DPI posted to your blog. Each render should have a different lighting scheme and camera angle.

Additionally, if you do a 3D print of the project you will complete and submit your rapid-prototyped project in the exhibition as sculpture, installation or performance.

Past Student Examples

Review the following links for inspiration:

Genetic Heirloom series

The Farm Fountain

Turren Van Balen and Biotopes

The Microbial Home

Moss Table Carlos Peralta biophotovoltaics

Carnivorous domestic robots