Digital Media: Models

Exercise 02.1 - Manipulation


The decision to document or copy an object, whether via 3D scanning or other means, elevates its value and affords it with new agencies. Approach the subject matter of your 3D scans with a critical eye. Objects to consider for scanning include common elements of the built environment (construction elements, segments of existing buildings, building massing, etc) as well as artifacts typically not associated with the discipline due to their ephemeral nature, materiality or other physical properties. Students are encouraged to scan objects of multiple sizes, manipulate the composition and appearance of the selected objects(s) prior to photographing, or even fabricate new objects for the specific purpose of scanning them.


3D scanned objects are liberated from constraints of physical context or circumstances, they are open-ended and extensible, with their own internal digital logics. Using one or more scanned objects as a collection of raw materials, leverage the techniques presented in the course workshops to generate alternative readings of the scanned object(s). Consider strategies for both formal and material manipulation and how such strategies can be applied to the various data types associated with the digital object (geometry, topology, image texture, etc.). Be selective about what is borrowed and what is newly authored from the original scan - keeping course themes surrounding materiality, authorship and originality in mind. Leverage the inherently scaleless nature of the 3D scan to create new interpretations of the familiar. The digital information which comprises a 3D scan can be manipulated in a variety of ways. Potential areas for creative intervention include:

Mesh information stored per-vertex (texture coordinates, normals, color information)
Geometric transformations (affine transformations, boolean operations)
Topological transformations (mesh decimation and subdivision),
Material (transparency, specular highlights, texture maps, normals, pixels, shading)

Conceptually, focus on the development of a novel formalization process that produces the 3 digital artifacts described above. Designs should be deterministic (ie. not random), but should leverage the capacities of algorithmic thinking to generate results that are not entirely foreseeable. In developing these artifacts, consider common processes of architectural formalization and composition such as hierarchy, mirroring, and symmetry, as well as operations specific to the digital description of geometry, such as subdivision and parameterization. Embrace ambiguities enabled by the digital - between input and output, real and synthetic, image and form. Focus on the translation between mediums, between data and the 3D model, 3D model and image, etc. Be strategic about the exclusion of certain kinds of information and the inclusion of other kinds of information within a given data format.


Working in teams of two, and using the data structures of the 3D scan as a starting point, develop a manipulation process which includes the following operations (in the order of your choosing). Document each step in the process in the form of a single image:

Imaging (ie. manipulation of raw photos prior to creating a 3D scan, presentation of 3D information in a 2D image format)

Using at least 3 seperate 3D scans. Consider the object being scanned in it’s physical, real world context, and how a digital presentation of that particular object might invite new modes of interpretation. Using data from the 3D scan(s), generate a single composite artifact measuring approximately 10’ in length, width and height. Consider the constructional logic of your form as well as its interior characteristics (general architectural requirements such as threshold, lighting, etc.) Consider identity and the perception of the massing from the human scale.