Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sketchup and Sculpture

OMFC, Google's Sketchup program is effing amazing. Its stuff like this that renews my love of technological progress and my faith in things getting better. Its a 3-D modeling program that Google distributes totally freely; basically just so that Google Earth users can make Google earth more interesting by modeling buildings. What an awesome example of reciprocal exchange beyond the monetary economy! Google says "Here, we'll spend lots of time and money developing a really simple and powerful tool to do awesome stuff, and you can pay us back by using it to make models of whatever you're interested in and put them into our other program, which incidentally allows you to explore the planet from your screen," and the crazy thing is: people do it! Just cause its fun! I imagine this is what the future looks like, when technology ameliorates material want, all people ever need to exchange with each other is their own creativity.

So here's a few shots what I've been able to do with it in the two days I've had the program; this is my first couple of attempts at modeling the Meme-Gene Soul-Body ambigram-sculpture I spend most of my last post describing. The way I had originally conceived it being constructed turned out to be fantastically ugly, so I'm glad I modeled it before I tried to build it, 'cause I would have been extremely frustrated with the final result. Below are some more successful experiments; they look a lot cooler when you can zoom and pan and spin them, but this should give you an idea of what I'm going for.

The first shot shows a few different experiments. The one to the left of the little clip-art guy is the one I like best; its a single helix with a real wide radius; on the right of the clipart guy is the same helix as a double. Going into the distance is a tighter helix; behind it is the tight helix inside the loose one (there just happened to be exactly the right amount of room in the center), and in the rear is a double helix with the tight one.

Here's a closer view of the loose single helix, shot so that you can see through the axis of one of the rungs (where if you look closely you can see a G cut into the surface).

Lastly; a shot looking down from within the loose single helix, where you can actually see the ambigrams. An unexpected and cool result of doing the cuts on the top surface rather than the side is that the words gradually invert themselves as they go around the spiral, so instead of doing the alternating black-blue direct inversions (like I did when I made it in 2-D), I could represent it as shown below. So if you look on the far left, you can read the word "GENE" and on the right side of the spiral you can read "MEME." Its tough to see at the size below; if you click on it It'll open bigger and be more visible.
Also note the G's on the small face toward the center; ultimately these would each be different; forming part of Gödel's incompleteness theorem, but I didn't want to spend the time cutting an individual letter into each rung at this stage of modeling as I suspect that it will evolve further.

I need to find a good way to model it once and be able to apply it to many variations; are there any h4x0rz out there who can suggest a method of applying many images to copies of a single shape? For example; if I had twenty six letters, and I wanted to put them each individually on the surface of a cube, a sphere, and a pyramid; is it possible to do this in an automated fashion in Sketchup?

One other level of symbolism that emerged accidentally: when the blocks are skewed like this they look like the blades of a turbine engine; which creates a marked mechanical contrast to the "biologicalness" of DNA. At the same time, it calls to mind the fact that DNA functions totally mechanistically, following simple predetermined rules. And yet, out of the mechanistic interactions of four chemicals; incredible complexity emerges in the form of things like humans and the things that humans create. For example, turbine engines. For another example, art that references turbine engines and draws a comparison between technology and biology with the implied emergence. Ahhh, self-reference!

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