This was the heading of a short article in ‘The Scotsman’ on 4th August about research by Lorenzo Stafford at the University of Portsmouth and published in the journal ‘Personality and Individual Differences’. It was also in The Independant the day before. I pick this up as Stafford says that ‘outgoing people in a good mood are more creative than those who keep themselves to themselves’. The reason I am very interested in this connection is that Anarkik3D’s haptic sketchmodelling software (Cloud9) is so enjoyable and fun to use and is for creative application. Will designers and artists therefore be more creative using Cloud9 because they are enjoying the experience of working in 3D with so few interface frustrations and breaks to cognitive flow? Now there’s a question wants answering! (www.anarkikangels.co.uk is about Cloud9)
I have this piece of work in the Inside Out exhibition (http://www.insideoutexhibition.com/) which is a compelling international touring exhibition which opened in Australia last June and features forty-six miniature sculptures produced in resin using 3D printing technologies. The Exhibition illustrates how developments in virtual computer visualisation and integrated digital technologies are giving contemporary makers new insight and opportunities to create objects and forms which were previously impossible to produce or difficult to envisage.
I used Cloud9 (version 1) to initially explore ideas and had 3 different streams/themes and not particularly struck by one enough to take it further. But on my bike going home something went ‘click’ – which was to bring two of these together as the basis on which to form my mini sculpture.
I have since recycled this idea/piece for a bookend competition and now re-working it for a piece of jewellery. This intensive time I have had using Cloud9 has highlighted a couple of very interesting advantages our combined soft/hardware has, re. haptics and 3 degrees of movement (as against 6 degrees of movement – x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z). The default material ‘feel’ is rubberyness so that not only do you have touch to let you know where you are in the 3D space, the fact that the form you touch flexes with contact with the cursor gives a strong visual cue to see your exact position- and 2 cues are always better than 1.
The other insight is more interesting for me and I hope generally! From our Tacitus Research Project it seemed that 6 degrees of Freedom (6DoF = x,y,z and rotation in x,y,z) is superior to 3DoF and for some interactions this is true. With having only 3DoF, using the more affordable Falcon haptic device, we focused on programming and adding shortcut keys to provide greater usability. What I experienced during designing and creating my sculpture is that the combination of dominant/non-dominant hand actions for 3 degrees of movement and 3 degrees of rotation was sufficiently intuitive for working fluidly AND brought just the right measure of control to the process. So for working intensively there is an excellent degree of immersion experienced as well as effective control for reflective and purposeful actions. So I am feeling very elated by the progress we have made with version2 of Cloud9. I hope you can try it sometime!
(The InsideOut exhibition is the result of collaboration between the Art Technology Coalition, the University of Technology Sydney and RMIT University in Australia along with De Montfort University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Dartington College of Arts at University College Falmouth in the United Kingdom. The exhibition opens in the UK in Sept and opened in Australia on June 4th.)
When people try Anarkik3D’s Cloud9 haptic software something just ‘clicks’. It is this gut reaction that is interesting as it validates the 4 years of research work (Tacitus Research Project) that formed our approach to development. and is embedded with the values from designing and making.
The main research site was Edinburgh College of Art and we had designer makers test the haptic software demonstrators in iterative user centred trials with their feedback informing all stages of development. Cloud9 is the result; haptic software which, combined now pragmatically, with affordable hardware, seems to be a distillation of designer maker ways of thinking.
I recommend this white paper by FemmeDen as so much in it articulates what we are about! Titled ‘Sex on the Brain’ it is by 4 women designers at SMART Design Company (New York/Barcelona) and is a call for a more ‘universal’ approach to designing and solidly references very interesting research findings. http://tinyurl.com/c9g35n
The Research team, and now the development team at Anarkik3D, is more or less balanced between the arts and science. There is a bias towards the arts, specifically designer makers and applied artists, and a bit towards women as a female designer maker (me) led the research project and is the companys’s CEO. Any overt influence is adjusted by a well balanced technology side!
The FemmeDen whitepaper explains why we have a more ‘unconventional’ approach to developing 3D modelling on computer when compared to that of conventional CAD and other 3D modelling packages which are very prescriptive and precision based. Yes it is more female biased but I prefer the terms non gender biased and ‘universal design’ as the Cloud9 haptic package appeals to designer makers of both genders.
We are also serious about providing a useful professional level ‘tool’, one that enables designer makers of both genders to access all the benefits and advantages of digital 3D modelling and access to 3D printing. To slot in well to their pipeline of designing and making, it is crucial that a level of competence can be achieved swiftly, and retained, without jeopardising the all important time in the workshop to make, as well as the time to explore and experiment with real materials and processes as these are fundamental for understanding the constraints and affordances for making successfully. It is through this hands-on process that designer makers build an important source of knowledge, albeit tacit, that is needed for good concept generation and designing. And by continuing to ask designer makers to feed back their thoughts to us to improve Cloud9 for how they want to work Anarkik3D can develop a valuable universal tool that suits a wider range of people.
This is a very good place then to thank all the designers, designer makers and artists who since 2000 have contributed to the development of Cloud9. Please stay on board as we will to develop it.
See MA Student Farah Bandookwala at www.hapticjewellery.ning.com
Farah Bandookwala will be working with Anarkik3D over the summer and her blog with pics of her work in progress can be seen here http://hapticjewellery.ning.com/.
She has opted for a Placement with us as part of her course as an MA Student studying at Edinburgh College of Art. Through a combination of processes including rapid prototyping, she is creating jewellery made up of modular units that allow the wearer to manipulate and transform the adornment as their sense of self changes.
She will explore the use of our haptic application, Cloud9, as a tool, on its own and to make CAD models more dynamic and organic, towards creating forms for rapid manufacture. By having the means to work more intuitively at this concept generation stage she can experiment more deeply and widely with complexity of form, and function to produce 3D prototypes, both digital and tangible to explore and test her premise – the possibility that identity is a fluid entity, and her aim to allow the wearer to convey this changing sense of self over time.
“Through my work I argue the need for contemporary jewellery to develop and form a new, perhaps much more complex, flexible way of expressing changeable notions of self. Rather than dictating meaning through form or composition, I would like the work to be open to the wearers’ own expression of self over time.”
My first blog. Will writing and putting words down in phrases, sentences etc, order my thinking ? Will putting down words capture and record those ideas swirling around in my mind? Will this be useful not just for me and for my colleagues but also for those who want to know more about the other levels we deal with in the haptic software development of Cloud9? Will it be in a form that others can understand and interact with and to which I can refer to and edit?
As I do not find writing at all easy starting a blog is a bit crazy but we all need feedback and I hope what I get back is helpful and constructive . It will certainly contain pictures to help cut down on the amount I have to write! So here goes….