Siblings of Code (2018)

Siblings of Code (2018)

Creating objects always involves some kind of tool: it used to be blades and drills, either manually or automatically powered. Nowadays it is more likely computer-controlled lasers, lathes and printers. Until now these machines have been controlled through static programs, which needed updating every so often, to accommodate increasing demands and developing materials. And until now the people developing and maintaining these programs have been working independently and separate from the end-users: the designers and manufacturers. The limitations of these ‘old’ drafting programs have proven to be catalysts for a change in the research world: as programs are used by a wider range of creative people, ease-of-use is not just a pleasant side-effect, it is a necessity. Programs like Shapeshifter have acknowledged this by creating simple-to-use controls, enabling an intuitive approach to designing a new object. But, the limitations of these programs again, is their static nature, which does not take into account the designers’ individual style. For students – experimenting and trying to find their own unique style and visual language – this can prove difficult to navigate creatively.

As the tools are changing, awareness is increasing to the need for collaboration between designers and program creators to achieve meaningful personally relevant results.

Creative collaborations

The research for Siblings of Code addressed this issue of successful communication between program creator (generative artist Ben Jack) and object creator (industrial designer Bernard Guy).

The aim was to create a program that would respond to the style preferences of Bernard in new and unforeseen ways. Over the course of the research, Bernard would create a design in Ben’s program, get a physical copy printed and discuss merits and issues with Ben. Ben then would translate these discussions into new parameters for the controls of the program. And so forth and so forth. Eventually they established a set of controls and parameters that allowed Bernard to freely design objects – the Siblings of Code – that he felt confident the printer could execute perfectly.

This experience has shown that collaboration can be highly successful. As computer writing programs and generative coding become more established, it will become easier to tailor-make a design program for creatives and help them expand their designs within their style preferences.

Hence naming the program the “Style machine”!