Nov 24, 2015 | By Tess

In our current times, intimacy seems inextricably linked to technology, with romantic couple selfies being posted online on the regular, flirty text messages being the basis or even beginning of many relationships, and Snapchats allowing for fleeting moments of intimate feeling. It is perfectly fitting then that one artist, on the quest to explore and understand human intimacy, has decided to do so through new technologies such as photogrammetry and 3D printing.

Rosalie Yu, a New York based interdisciplinary artist and visual designer originally from Taiwan, has been exploring and representing human intimacy in her current project Embrace in Progress. The project, a series of 3D printed sculptures that represent the various moments and movements of an embrace, was inspired by her own experience with human intimacy, as well as her interest in movement, time, and 3D technologies.

Yu explains, “Embrace in Progress started with the attempt to answer these questions: Things we experience are not single moments. Intimacy does not occur in a single moment; it’s the act of being close and further away over time between people. It is something irrational and time based, and I wonder how I can preserve it as a static object.”

Rosalie Yu

Of course, you’ll notice looking at the sculptures that they are not simple representations of a couple hugging; they are warped, skewed and complex pieces that have an evident technological nature. For Yu, this was a main part of the project, as she was not only interested in investigating human intimate nature as it is, but looking at “how human experiences such as emotion and time [are] perceived by machines”. In order to achieve this effect, Yu used 3D scanning, slit-scan photography techniques, and depth sensors to distort and capture the moving elements of a human embrace.

The project went through several iterations, as Yu explains how she first used photogrammetry, a technique where several cameras capture a still image from various angles to generate a 3D image, to effectively turn the 3D world into a 2D image and then back into a 3D model. She tried several variations on this, using 16 point and shoot cameras, video and slit scan photography, 24 GoPro cameras for high resolution, and various other techniques.

When this process proved to have certain limitations in representing the actual movement of the embrace, Yu opted to try a Kinect depth sensor, a device that allowed her to essentially create the slit-scan effect through code, capturing the movement of the embrace. To get a 3D rendering, she triggered 4 Kinects together to capture the back, front, and sides of the embrace. In combining the 4 images she was able to create a 3D model of the embrace that possessed an interesting glitch aesthetic. These details, however, could not be properly turned into a tangible sculpture, so Yu had to again find another iteration of her project.

The final version of Embrace in Progress was made using 3D scanning and modeling techniques. In order to achieve the final result, Yu separated the process, first capturing the 3D data of the still body, and then overlaying and incorporating the movement data into the design. In the end, Yu was able to create three different sculptures of the various embraces, which she 3D printed using 3D Systems ProJet 660 powder printer. The final models, which Yu presented as her thesis were made in a white material and measured 10 x 10 x 6 inches.

Embrace in Progress MakerBot Prototype

She says of the project, “These 3D printed pieces recreate the act of embracing and are represented in a static form by the flow of movement twisted because of time.”

What is particularly interesting about the project is that she emphasizes that the process behind making the sculptures was just as important as the final product itself. That is, not only was 3D scanning and printing technology used as a means to create the final sculptures, but it was a way for her to explore human intimacy through a technological means, to begin to see and understand an embrace differently.

“I see my project being the first step of exploring the expressive opportunities of 3D scanning,” says Yu. “I want to explore how technology can offer me a new tool to realize my idea of the world.”

Rosalie Yu, currently a Research Resident at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, has worked with 3D technologies before, as she used 3D scanning to explore the body as a canvas in her project Skin Deep, and re-appropriated 3D models to create a photo book of environmental portraits called Still Life.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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