My project was an investigation of digital fabrication’s potential role in fostering localized produce growth as an act of political and economical self-assertion within the context of Puerto Rico. It looked at the parallels between the RepRap project and the idea of self-initiated growth of produce as circumventions of standard systems of operation; RepRap’s free exchange of knowledge bases forgoes the proprietary beginnings of 3D printing technology. With the localized growth of produce, it struck as an antidote to food security being at the mercy of external forces, reflecting Puerto Rico’s long history of legislation, both local and federal, benefiting external capital entities with seldom regard for actual Puerto Ricans.
Project evolution / Process / Challenges
Most of the time in the shop was spent making sculptures, pieces of furniture, or just shop projects. A lot of it would start from a self-proposed challenge into learning subjects unknown or unfamiliar; attempts at understanding systems of power, realistic expectations for consumer-level use of digital fabrication, and an account of a beginner-level experience of trying to self-teach produce-growing basics
I think the most significant change to the project was Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico the fall of that year, and shifting gears to refocus the line of research to something that would also fit through the scope of disaster recovery.
The biggest hurdle was attempting to meet too many goals simultaneously. Given my initial level of proficiency in the field, the attempt to contextualize the entire investigation
through the lens of Digital Fabrication quickly became a hindrance to the fluidity on the research. I was concerned with learning and understanding the basics of an entire discipline before being capable of posing the right questions for the research project’s advancement. The best way to learn was to assign myself small projects that centered around the specific skill I wanted to learn.
The impact of the Digital Fabrication studios, and community at MICA
Being in the shop really broadened the sense of what materials and processes I could consider to build things, particularly the use of plastics and possible reuse of plastic detritus. It was also interesting to see CAD decisions intermingle with more traditional methods of making, and vice versa.
Plus, one always benefits from being in an environment where there is a free exchange of knowledge which I think the dFab space fosters particularly well. It shed a lot of light into the difficulties of self-directing research, how easy it is to lose a thread of investigation, and how difficult it can sometimes be to refocus or get back on track. I think my time there really highlighted the benefits of taking a multidisciplinary approach to everything. It really cemented the idea that things inform each other in interesting ways.
It shed a lot of light into the difficulties of self-directing research, how easy it is to lose a thread of investigation, and how difficult it can sometimes be to refocus or get back on track. I think my time there really highlighted the benefits of taking a multidisciplinary approach to everything. It really cemented the idea that things inform each other in interesting ways.