Generative materiality

The production of physical artefacts, either through design or artistic creation, often relies on our ability to manipulate and shape materials and environments to our liking. In this process, natural elements are reduced to pure matter, and play a passive role in the outcome. The incorporation of digital fabrication technologies and robotics to these practices has allow for more precise and complex control of the production of artefacts, yet the approach continues to be the same: the artificial is imposed on, and subjugates, the natural. This project investigates ways to foster the creative possibilities of natural intelligence, in order to develop co-creative processes capable of producing a new kind of artefact: one that involves co-design between human, robotic and natural intelligences.

3D printed structures developed for plant growth
3D printed structures developed for plant growth
3D printed structures developed for plant growth

By combining generative algorithms for form-making, 3D printing for fabrication and robotic control for ‘gardening’, this research aims to develop a workbench for natural-human-artificial intelligence co-creation.

Experiments being conducted at SensiLab include the development of 3D printed physical structures suitable for plant growth, along with the implementation of ‘robotic gardening’ routines based on the concept of ‘slow robotics’. Using two UR3 robotic arms with custom designed attachments, the systems being developed support automated planting, watering, feeding and nurturing of biological materials, as well as the control over tropisms and physical constraints. This approach enables us to define and monitor an environment for plants and other bio-materials to grow in, and to interact with, allowing them to semi-autonomously ‘create’.

Experimentation in ‘robotic gardening’
Experimentation in ‘robotic gardening’
Paolo Alborghetti and Camilo Cruz are working on this research

This project is ongoing and forms part of Professor Jon McCormack’s ARC Future Fellowship.

Project members

Jon McCormack
Camilo Cruz Gambardella
Paolo Alborghetti

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