Digital Fabrication: Studio Research is an advanced course in the MICA dFab Studio. Each semester is organized around a special topic that guides the course workshops which expose students to new topics and skills. These workshops inspire student research throughout the semester, and these research projects become the main focus as the semester progresses.
This semester we are focusing on “experimental output.” We will take a close look at the low-level functions of the digital fabrication tools we have in the studio as a study of digitally controlled machines. We will learn the common language of machine control, g code. Rather than relying on existing software to convert our designs into g code, we will write our own code directly and then indirectly by creating our own scripts. From there we will step down to an even lower level and explore the function and control of stepper motors. Following these workshops, we will work collaboratively to build a “soft robotics toolkit,” exploring pneumatics and novel motion components. We will then implement this sytem in a simple collective project.
Along the way, students will be conducting research on topics related to the course, with the goal of creating their own experimental output device of some sort. This can take the form of a machine, a hack, a software flow, a performative object, or many other options. Each student will have her/his own website, which serves as a creative process journal that collects a wide range of resources and documents their progress.
The course combines increasing technical skills, academic research practices, outlandish thinking, humor, and empathy. This complex brew and a rigorous work ethic will combine for interesting results, not only in the final projects, but also in the student’s development of their own research-based art practice.