week_3: acrylic + laser cutter art experiment

In order to learn how to use the laser cutter as class assignment, I decided to use acrylic as material in which to cut and edge. The overall idea is to create an experimental sculpture using the light properties of acrylics when illuminated with a light source after they are cut, edged and bended.

I selected six different acrylic sheets of size (6 X 12 inches) with sickness of 3.0 mm (4 sheets) and 1.5 mm (2 sheets) respectively. Acrylic sheets were bought at Canal Plastics as suggested on the class supplemental material (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Acrylic sheets used in this study.

A very simple geometric pattern composed of squares, rectangles, lines and letters was created using Adobe Illustrator as the input file for the 60 Watt Epilog Mini laser cutter (Figure 2). After cut and edged, the acrylic sheets were bent using the Acrylic Bender and Heat Gun in order to deform and alter the geometries cut and edged and also as means to alter the light refraction properties of the acrylic when illuminated with a light source.

Figure 2. Image of simple geometric pattern drawn in Adobe Illustrator as source file to cut and edge acrylic sheets.

By taking advantage of the number of times the acrylic sheet is passed through the laser cutter, different figures will be entirely cut (3 times through the laser) or not (1 or 2 passes only) and thus create a slightly different pattern even though is the same Adobe Illustrator file (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Acrylic sheet through the first pass on the laser cutter.

I then proceeded to bend the acrylic sheets in different forms and shapes as to deviate light in different patterns, creating abstract light compositions using the light properties of the acrylic (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Acrylic sheets are heated up and bend into different forms, being cut or without being cut.

The following step was to clamp the acrylic sheet in interesting ways as to how they diffused light when illuminated with a light source so that I could take sample photographs emphasizing the aesthetics and beauty of microenvironment between the sheets (Figure 5 and 6).

Figure 5. Acrylic sheets clamp together formed micro-environments in which light refraction and diffusion created interesting color pattern combinations.

Figure 6. Photographs highlighting formation of color pattern combinations by applying a light source to the assembly of acrylic sheets.

I've shown here that the use of simple elements in repetitive manner and with minimal variation among copies of a single element can create interesting visual variation that can be considered abstract art when proper photography emphasizes a particular microenvironment.