Jun 2, 2015 | By Alec

Art, as we are often reminded, can be just about everything. It can be chaotic and wild and futuristic and technological (and thus even 3D printed), but it above all represents something human. Something inside of us that is reflected in the paint, the sculptures or even the 3D printed plastic. One student from Ohio State has taken a very literal interpretation of that for his final art project, making an installation about something inside him that is just begging to come out. Using 3D printing, Andrew Frueh has made a gigantic installation full of plywood and plastic components that reacts to his Tourette’s Syndrome.

As you might know, Tourette’s Syndrome is a neuropsychiatric condition that results in a number of physical tics (in your arms, legs, head, you name it) and at least one vocal tic. And as you can see in the video below, Andrew has quite a lot of tics. That’s exactly why he has built this fascinating sensor-covered installation called Echo of Motion that is activated by a human actor. ‘The human stands within or before the the work and his gestures are echoed by the machine. The machine retains a memory of these gestures, and after the human is gone, the machine continues with lonesome sporadic echoes of motion,’ Andrew explains.

This fascinating contraption was installed at the MFA thesis show - Mirage and the Rainbow at OSU Urban Art Space in 2014, and as Andrew explained he developed Echo of Motion to reflect his own condition. ‘I came up with the piece as an original work that would be a culmination and representative my work while getting my Master of Fine Arts degree at The Ohio State University. Echo of Motion is a physical representation of my own relationship to my Tourette's Syndrome and my impulses as a maker,’ he tells us.

Andrew 'operating' the machine with his tics.

And as you can see, it contains a lot of different parts that took a long time to develop. ‘The machine is a modular construction of wood dowels, laser-cut plywood, 3D printed parts, ball-chain, gear-motors, cables, and various nuts and bolts,’ Andrew says, which were largely made using a laser cutter and a 3D printer. ‘The 3D printed parts were all printed in my studio using a home-made printer (sort of a Prusa Mendel with my own changes running on an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS board),’ he explains. Everything was designed using Inkscape, OpenSCAD and Blender.

But the real question is: how does it work? After all, the installation twitches whenever Andrew does. As he explains, the machine is driven by two Arduinos. ‘One worn on my chest, the other in the small box on the floor with all the black cables coming out of it. The two Arduino boards communicate via XBee wireless radios. The board on my chest uses data from the four accelerometers sewn into my clothing -- one on each of my four limbs,’ he explains. And whenever Andrew (or whoever is there) twitches, those movements are interpreted by the board he is carrying and sent to the box on the floor. ‘Next the board in the box interprets the data coming from the sensors and translates it into motion that is executed by the various robotic sculptures within the installation.’

The result is an inspiring installation that captures both the chaos of our movements (and especially of Tourette’s), while emphasizing the potential of careful mechanics and electronics. See it for yourself below.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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