Nov 25, 2015 | By Tess

Skype, Facetime, and other screen communication platforms have taken on an increasingly critical role in our lives over the past decade. Not only to facilitate board room meetings, or long-distance business talks, but to keep us connected to our families, to our friends, and even to our significant others. Living abroad myself, Skype has become a weekly ritual, as I sit in front of my laptop screen, call my family halfway across the world, where they also sit, huddled in front of the family desktop. The ritual has come to replace in a way our sit-down family dinners, where we would converge over a table of food and drink instead of a screen.

This dynamic, which many of us are familiar with, is the topic of design artist Louisa Zahareas’ most recent project, “Screen Mutations” in which she has designed and 3D printed a collection of tableware that only appear normal when viewed through a webcam. “I wanted to reinvent our family rituals for this flat display, and for us the most important ritual is the family meal,” says Zahareas. “I was trying to transform my perspective to fit their reality, what they would see.”

The collection consists of a percolator, which in person appears sliced in half, a slanted teacup, a melted looking cereal bowl, and a teapot which has two lids and two spouts. The surreal looking pieces of tableware were designed using a technique of forced perspective that would, from the angle of Zahareas’ laptop webcam, make everything appear normal to the viewer on the other side of the screen.

In order to achieve this forced perspective effect, Zaraheas collaborated with Dianne Hansford, an expert in computational geometry. Using the artistic technique of anamorphosis - in which a figure or object is distorted to only appear normal through special devices such as mirrors or from certain vantage points - as a basis, Hansford was able to create a mathematical formula for Zahareas to use in her design.

Essentially, Zahareas designed the 3D models of her tableware without the skewed qualities and ran the designs through Hansford’s formula to generate a wide number of possibilities for how the designs could look to appear normal through the screen. Zahareas explains, “It deforms [the design] at different levels based on different fields, so for example one possibility for a teapot could be 2 meters long.” Of course, for practical purposes, Zahareas chose models that were a more feasible size.

Once she had selected the formula generated designs, Zahareas 3D printed the prototypes and tested the effect through her camera phone. The final pieces of her Screen Mutations project were made out of porcelain and were presented at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show, which took place this October as part of Dutch Design Week 2015.

While the tableware pieces are perhaps not the most practical to actually eat and drink with, their design and presence is representative of our increasingly virtual relationships and communications. Through this project, Zahareas is ultimately asking the question we should all be asking ourselves, “How far are we willing to go to distort physical reality with how we are presenting ourselves on the web?”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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