The Time Machine!

So, its happening… last week I time travelled and took a walk in turn of the century Luna Park! It was really exciting and gave me a huge boost that this project is really going to be amazing. It’s one thing to see the models of the buildings on a screen, but wearing the VR headset, you’re literally standing in the middle of the scene and have been teleported through time and space to turn of the century Coney Island. It also gave me the vision that what I am creating is actually a time machine. My hope is that as the viewer walks through and explores the virtual world, that they will be able to hit something on the controller to ‘jump’ to the next point in the timeline to see the architecture around them change.

IMG_8889

I spent a day last week out in New Jersey visiting my friend Matt Laverty, who worked with me at Funny Garbage, and now runs his own studio Atomic Veggies, which is focused on VR. He works out of a coworking space in the old Bell Labs building, a cavernous space designed by Eero Saarinen. After spending years in disrepair and being abandoned, the whole campus is being revitalized as a 21st century tech hub.

IMG_8898

Interior of the Bell Labs Building

I wish I could show you what it was like to really stand there in the middle of Luna Park, but it was truly magical. In the meantime, here’s some of the work on the models as it is unfolding. Matt and I are working on texturing the buildings as well, but right now the models are the main focus. Stay tuned for more soon!

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 8.51.20 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 10.30.24 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.16.07 PM (2)

Luna Park VR Project

I’m already in my fourth week here at TED and am starting to amass a nice collection of newly modeled buildings to go into the VR recreation of Luna Park. The hope is to complete a few more structures in the coming week and then bring them into Unity so that I can begin doing some tests for the cell shading style they will be rendered in, and explore specular maps to be used for the thousands of tiny electric lights covering all the buildings. Here are some screenshots of the newest buildings, as well as a sample cell shaded view from the original prototype. Its pretty exciting to finally be working on this again!

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 1.37.45 PM

The 1907 entrance, under construction

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 6.52.00 PM

A finished 1907-8 version of the entrance

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 11.53.53 PM

The 1914 “pinwheel” version of the entrance seems more in people’s memories of Luna Park, so I decided to go ahead and build that version as well. 

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 6.49.21 PM

I am super happy with the way the pinwheel version of the entrance came out. The park changed so much year to year. How cool would it be if we could travel in both time and space as we explored Luna Park? This is one of my goals for the piece.

colorEntrance

A Trip to the Moon was the original simulation ride, offering passengers a voyage on the spaceship Luna from Coney Island to the moon, where they disembarked into caverns made of green cheese and were greeted by Selenites and an assortment of fanciful creatures of the moon.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 8.53.57 PM

The current state of my Trip to the Moon.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.26.05 AM

The current work in progress: 20,000 Leagues under the Sea

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 5.16.09 PM

Cell shading test from the prototype… I am pretty happy with this style- though it needs to be a little less pink and more midnight blue, but it still lacks the electric lights to really shine

Stay tuned for more!

 

Fred at TED!

It’s been hard to keep my mouth shut the last two months, but I am finally able to announce that I will be spending the next 3 months as a Resident at TED, working on a project to recreate turn of the 20th century Thompson & Dundy’s Luna Park in VR, with an accompanying TED talk in June.


This is the next step in the evolution of a project that I have been working on on and off for over 20 years, since I first went the NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in the mid 1990’s. Back then, I created a series of Quicktime VR panoramas of Luna Park, and then a few years ago when 3D printing became widely accessible, I rekindled the project to produce a 3D printed model of the park that was exhibited in the Coney Island Museum. This upcoming phase will be focused on recreating the entirety of the park as a VR experience which will allow viewers to explore the park firsthand. It is my hope to share the models under a Creative Commons licence that encourages others to use virtual Luna Park and encourage its use as a virtual meeting place in the future.

There are several themes I am thinking about in regards to the TED talk I will be doing in June, but the general idea I am working with is about the history and legacy of technology as entertainment, specifically Luna Park’s role in defining everything we do for amusemnt today. Luna Park came out of the golden age of world fairs, a time when attractions in the 1897 World Columbian Exposition were effectively the physical manifestation of a memory palace containing all of man’s culture and knowledge. It was the real world embodiment of everything Google is for us today. The park was not only a showcase for fantastical, otherworldly architecture, it transported the melting pot of American immigrants to exotic locales around the world, even to the moon, anticipating what the future of entertainment would be like. Electricity, phonographs, motion pictures, infant incubators, simulation rides, they all began at Luna Park. I cannot wait to virtually resurrect it and share it with the world!

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 6.32.44 PM

A screencap of the Luna Park VR prototype, with cell shaded rendering style

 

There is Always Hope: A Love Letter for America

Happy Valentines Day.
America broke my heart in 2016 but I’m committing to this being a year of positive growth and transformation so I’m sending this message of love out to the world in the hopes that collectively we can all channel our anger, hurt and disappointment into constructive avenues that will make a difference in the world. I didn’t want this post to be just more partisan politics, it’s high time people came together to rediscover the common threads that unite us, not divide us. If you’re like me, you feel like you spent the last 3 months in a permanent panic attack, livid with rage, scared, constantly near tears, hurt, isolated and confused by a world of fake news, denial of science, alternative facts and shock events. Facebook proved to be a bubble made up of primarily cheerleaders who shared my politics. I found myself being upset by and upsetting people, some close, some not so close, from both sides of the political fence. Insults were hurled, friendships were lost, families torn apart. I regret some of the things I said and did, and I know I’m not the only one. We need to have a healing moment, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to come from Washington.

Valentine’s Day is here and it sure feels like love has disappeared from the world. I have been looking for the remotest signs of hope, specifically any kind of vision of how red and blue states can find a common ground to come together. This interview with Jon Stewart touches on so many relevant points, but starting at 3:54, on through when he talks what makes America exceptional, I again begin to feel hope that maybe there can be a common ground. His point is that people are naturally tribal and want to segregate into tribes, but what is extraordinary about America is the way it can transcend that.

I also found some inspiration in my Twitter feed this week when I saw Cory Booker tweeting at some harsh critics a message of love and compassion. I can’t seem to find the exact tweet that inspired me, but this article in the Washington Post talks about how he handles haters. New York state governor Andrew Cuomo picked up on themes of love and unity last week when a train full of passengers scrubbed off Nazi graffiti.

This is America at its best. We are a diverse people, but when we come together, magic happens. This is the exceptionalism Jon Stewart is talking about. Maureen Dowd’s recent piece in the NY times also talks about the Trump’s Gold lining and Americans coming together in reaction our new leader’s divisiveness. Flipping the channels last night I happened upon Accidental Courtesy on PBS’ Independant Lens, which profiled musician Daryl Davis, an African American musician who has spent over 30 years befriending members of the KKK. Slowly, through face to face meetings in which both sides talk and listen, he has put a human face on blind hatred and led many of them to shed their robes and renounce their ways. His story was an inspiration and lesson about a path in which all Americans, red and blue could maybe come together after this election.

If you’re like me,  you’ve probably ruffled someone’s feathers one way or another this year, but today may be a good time to reach out and make a plan to meet in the real world for a drink to begin to mend fences.

I love you America.
Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

Custom Glass Castings from Digital Designs

This post is a follow up to a previous one about techniques that I have been exploring to transfer digital designs into cast glass objects. This began last year at a fellowship at  Wheaton Arts’ Creative Glass Center of America and was expanded upon this year while teaching at Pilchuck Glass School and in a workshop at Detroit’s College of Creative Studies. In particular, I have  focused on one particular technique; using a low cost desktop CNC machine to carve reusable graphite molds for glass casting multiples. There’s a few design limitations to this approach, but it is an amazingly cost effective approach to creating small to medium scale runs of custom designed glass tiles. The molds hold up for hundreds of castings, and possibly even more, so this is an exciting way of creating custom glass design objects and custom tiles for architectural applications. This will be a big focus for much of my work in 2017.

With a clean and simple design, these new geometric tiles channel the 1980’s era video game Qbert, Islamic mosaics, and leverage the material’s clarity and sparkle. I love the simplicity and the illusory way we see through the smooth top surface to see the relief texture on the backside. I am thinking this will become a set of tabletop design objects, with 6″,9″ and 11″ sizes that interlock. However, I am almost more excited to think of them as architectural tile. How cool would it be to have a wall made of these, or have them as accents embedded in concrete?

Below you will see some of this new carved graphite mold work, as well as some student work from teaching at Pilchuck this summer.  Design constraints of this method center around the fact that this process does not support forms with undercuts. Likewise, the machine can only mill material up to ~2.5″ thick and can only do straight plunge cuts as long as the longest router bit you can find. For most 1/8″ bits this means you cannot do any straight cuts more than 1.5″ deep. However, because graphite is a lubricant and it pretty impervious to heat, once the moisture leaves the material after the first few casts, these molds can be used over and over again, with beautiful results. For any schools or glass studios who are looking to create such a setup, I have created a bill of materials for creating such a setup, totalling under $2500. (BTW, I am available to teach workshops! )

The top of the casting is flat, perfectly magnifying the relief texture of the underside.

img_6550

CNC milling the graphite mold

Completed rough pass on CNC, ready for finishing pass

Ladling molten glass into the finished mold

img_4978

The tile on the left is upside down, showing the relief on the backside. The relief side is as nice as the front and they would make a beautiful glass brick wall.

I’ll end with some images from the TaDDDaa!!! class at The Pilchuck Glass School this summer. It was a three week deep dive into 3D modeling, scanning, printing and CNC carving. Here’s some of the class’ work with graphite for glassmaking:

img_6421

This was my first test with this technique at Wheaton Arts and the process used by students for the class at Pilchuck. Here we see rough and smooth CNC carving of the graphite mold, hot glass in the mold, and final product at room temperature.

img_0365

The TaDDDaa!!! class at Pilchuck was a three week deep dive into 3D modeling, scanning, printing and CNC carving.

img_9621

My TA Christian with Phirak and Rebecca, who will be teaching a 3D printing clay class at Pilchuck next summer

img_3624

Rebecca’s mold based on a victorian pattern

img_9784

Jameszie made a Ouija planchette

img_3645

Brent supervising his first carve

img_9746

John, Lee, Phirak and Nikki trying out their molds

img_9827-2

My student John was a master mold maker so he undertook making a two part blow mold and spent quite some time finishing the graphite to a polish

img_9829-2

Blowing glass into the mold

img_9847

Michael’s two part blow mold

img_9749-2

A pile of hot casting molds cooling down at the end of the class casting session

img_0375

A fishscale tile design I was playing with

CNC Carving Glitch Art

Greetings from the woods of Stanwood Washington where I am teaching in the remote paradise known as the Pilchuck Glass School. Session 2’s theme is Play and our class has been playing with methods of creating glass castings from digitally generated sculptures. 

As part of the class we are CNC carving graphite molds so I brought a bunch of graphite that I bought on eBay. I had previously carved blocks that I had bought from this guy with no problems so I was bamboozled when I started to have carving issues with my molds here. I spent the better part of the last two days wrestling with the XCarve, thinking the axis slipping was mechanical. Then I realized the carbide bit was totally shot and realized the problem. The CNC is finally back to carving the other/ softer graphite like it was butter. I finally carved this mold I’ve been trying to make, but only did the rough pass. I think I like the terraced stepping… What do you think!? 

In the meantime, please enjoy my latest work with graphite glitches….







Doctor Who’s Boneless Inspired By Fredini’s Zombie Army of 3D Print Fails!

This article How 3D printing glitches inspired these Doctor Who effects was recently brought to my attention. The article (and several others like it on the web) talks about how 3D printing “glitches” like my Zombie Army  print fails were the inspiration for the BBC show’s villains, the “Boneless”. To my great surprise and delight, the example 3D print fail being cited as influential on the Boneless was one of my earliest self portraits! As a Doctor Who Fan going all the way back to middle school, its quite an honor to have been of service to the Doctor.

DoctorWhoBoneless

“Boneless” was the name the Doctor gave to creatures from a two-dimensional universe. They were able to reduce both lifeforms and other three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional. After taking on three-dimensional forms themselves, they were also able to restore objects back from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.

frediniGlitch

This 3D Printed self portrait (I call it “Max Fredroom”) was one of my earliest print failures on my original Printrbot printer, and has been cited as influential on the visual style of Doctor Who’s Boneless.