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2. Digital bodies

I began this project mid-way through my Fabricademy journey admittedly during what has felt like a low period within the program. Struggling internally, I decided to give shape to internal feelings in hopes of processing and moving through dark times. Its uncomfortable to admit that here, but I think it's common on this Fabricdemy journey for many and so I thought I'd call it out in case you're reading this - it's normal :)

Research & Ideation

Works that inspire me call attention to the politics of bodies, and of internalized emotions connected to the human form.

Metamorphasis I, 2017, Goodman Gallery

In his work Metaphorphisis I, on of Walter Oltmann's Aluminum wire caterpillar suit speaks to a dialog; the power dynamics of colonization and depictions of the 'exotic'. All to often those of us in the Global North think of those outside of ourself as "other" seldom considering ourself in the same light. Leveraging a luxury art market to expose privaledge gets the chefs kiss from me.

Objects of Obesity, Revecca Harris

Rebecca Harris' work in this collecton speaks to the optics of obesity. While I myself do not have experience with obesity what I appreciate is Rebeccas exposure of internalized narratives, an artists courage to expose wounds cast into them by systems around them.


OS Scanning

Using the App Reality Scan I created a 3D model of my banana using a process called Photogrammatry. The process of Photogrammatry allows you to stitch together 2D photos to generate a 3D form.

To use Reality Scan:

  • Position your object in balanced lighting without strong shadows
  • Shiney or reflective objects do not capture well
  • Maintaining even distance take photos in rotation around the object
  • Orange images represent incomplete stitches
  • Red areas of the object represent voids to be completed
  • Once you have used all the photos toggle the screen to "Preview"
  • Select Upload to SketchFab to automatically upload your model

Making a Human

Make Human Form

MakeHuman is an open source tool that allows you to select and adapat a human form. Different positions were searchable and so I selected an image of a person swimming. I felt like I was confused and drowning a bit and so I altered the swimmer to emphasize the strain in the models brow and enlagred the size of the mouth. I exported the file to an STL in order then to bring it into Rhino and tidy it up.

Adjusting Model in Rhino

Model adaptations within Rhino

Within my sculpture I wanted to have a person reaching out of the water. In order to create the form to a scale that I could reasonably assembly I decided to cut the model at the shoulders. I was able to acheive this within Rhino using the following steps:

  • Open STL
  • Remove the eyeballs!
  • Draw a line where you'd like to cut the model
  • Use the Split Command, using the line as the cutting object
  • Select the portion of the model you do not want and Delete
  • Use the CAP command in order to fill the void created by the cut.
  • Scale the resulting model to your desired proportions with a nod to material use and laser cutting machine dimensions
  • Select the final object and save as an STL

Creating cuts in Slicer360

Ok so we've picked our shape now how to slice it up. There are multiple options in Slicer360 however I opted for the stacked model as I was looking to create a wave motion within my model to elude to the waterline and feelings of disorientation. Keeping these elements horizonal would support me in ease of assembly and connect with a natural waterline.

Things to pay attention to:

  • Fingers can get really very small
  • Allowances for materials should be considered in slotted formations
  • Shifting the cut angle can impact assembly and effectiveness of part connections
  • Density of slices can impact ease of assembly

Sliced form in acrylic

Adjusting layout in Illustrator

Adjusting vector files

I wanted to cut half of my form in acrylic for underwater and the other half in MDF to express the parts of the body which were above water. Thus, there are two files I created for both materials. I adjusted the size of the numbers and reduced the cuts by removing the dowling markers and some of the alignment lines as I was not going to align the pieves as intended.


  • For some of my pieces I ordered the pieces numerically to support ease of assembly
  • Acrylic lines may show up in your final piece, making them smaller helps
  • Puting numbers outside of the smaller elements, helps with seeing the number
  • Taping pieces in place before removing the material from the laser cutter helps keep pieces in order

Using the Laser Cutter

In order to laser cut my materials we followed the steps below:

  • Export the vector filt to .DXF
  • Import the .DXF and select the order of cutting by colours (tip: cut the outside perimiter last)
  • Send the file to the laser cutter (ours is the FRAMUN FL1409)
  • Calibrate the Z axis
  • Choose an origin point & test the outter parimeter of the cut to ensure your file fits the material
  • Turn on the extractor
  • Press "START" and close the cover

For my 3mm MDF the settings were as follows:

  • Cut Speed: 70 Power: Min 70 Max 74
  • Engrave: Power: Min25 Max35

Model Assembly

Pieces were assembled in a wave formation for the acrylic pieces underwater. In order to reduce the amount of glue showing I used the end of a pencil to dab into the Acrifix. The weight of my model caused it to topple so if you are altering the intended design of your assembly - keep this in mind. MDF elements were assembled using simple wood glue, again using a small amount so as to prevent the pieves from slipping around

Ultimately I wish I had have waved the entire form, but perhaps that is for the second iteration of this model.

Find My Files

Make it yourself - find all the files right here

Last update: 2023-01-04