TROY, NY, Mar 24 - 2012 -The conference was supposed to be about the use of parametric shaped geometry -- but the lasting image may be of a pig's head. Severed, bloody, stuffed in plastic. It was supposed to be appropriate for what it was resting on, a artsy butchers block, Zoe Coombes, founder of Cmmnwlth Studio, knows how to get attention. We were stunned into silence. Only much later at dinner, one of us deemed it vaguely pornographic, someone objected to her use of "orgasm," another deplored her use of Autodesk Mudbox... but all of us remembered her. Zoe went on to discuss the return to basics she is seeing among the city folk (her furniture studio is in New York city), was on the verge of condeming plastics, and so on.
Only when my brain was able to release the image did I realize Zoe was here because some of her designs, such as the butcher block, rely on complex shapes as can be created by tools used by generative component practioners, like Rhino. The Smart Geometry conference is like that: a variety of topics, sometimes dead relevant to its name, other times not, but often arousing. Right now I am listening to a painter and simultaneously seeing a clip of Robin Williams with a butterfly. Hmm.... that connection is not immediately apparent. But I did appreciate the bamboo bicycle (presentation about material science, materials being the theme of this years conference).
Why bamboo for a bike? According to Dr Hull, head of the material science at Rensaeller Polytechnic Institute (host of SG20112), bamboo can absorb the shock and vibration better than conventional material (metal, carbon fiber) which can totally beat up bike racers, for example those who race the cobblestones of the famed Spring Classic, Paris-Roubaix.