Golan Levin and Collaborators

Flong Blog + News

25 Technologies

4 April 2012 / pedagogy


Materials for a lecture about stuff that art students should know about!







Via the Internet:

  • Blurb: blurb.com
    “All the tools you need to make your own photo book, whether you’re making a personalized wedding album, cookbook, baby book, travel photo book, or fundraising book.”
  • Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/publish/
    “Tools and services to make publishing simple and the most options to sell your books.”
  • CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/
    “Our free online publishing tools and community can help you complete and sell your DVD or CD.
    Distribute on Amazon.com, your own website, and other retailers without setup fees or inventory.”

In real space:

  • The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) is a print on demand machine that prints, collates, covers, and binds a single book in a few minutes. The EBM is small enough to fit in a retail book store or small library room, and as such it is targeted at retail and library markets. The EBM can potentially allow readers to obtain any book title, even books that are out of print. The machine takes as input a PDF file and prints, binds, and trims the reader’s selection as a paperback book. The direct-to-consumer model of the EBM eliminates shipping, warehousing, returns and pulping of unsold books, and allows simultaneous global availability[3] of millions of new and backlist titles. [map]




The following sites provide print-on-demand services. You don’t have to maintain an inventory, and your products can be customized (within ranges you set — e.g. shirt size, color) for your customers.




Laser cutting is a technology that uses a laser to cut flat materials, and is typically used for industrial manufacturing applications, but is also starting to be used by schools, small businesses, artists and hobbyists. Low-cost machines (under $5,000-50,000) can cut acrylic, cardboard, thin plywood, among other materials; industrial machines can cut sheet steel.

Laser cutters radically transform the economy of cutting things. With a laser cutter:

  • It’s as easy to cut a complex curve as it is to cut a straight line.
  • It’s possible to produce a large number of identical multiples.
  • Holes can be precisely placed, for assembly with bolts and screws.
  • Extreme precision makes it possible to construct 3D objects from interlocking forms.
  • Solid forms can also be built up from thin layers of material.
  • Etching and scoring are also possible.

[Google images of laser cut designs]



These are a wide range of devices that take a 3D model (from your favorite CAD system) and print out a physical object.

  • There are devices which can print objects from plastic, ceramic, or metal. They usually work by building up thin layers of material.
  • 3D printers can print hollow objects; interlocking objects (like chains); objects with trapped parts inside (like a rattle).
  • Sometimes they have a second material for support (for overhangs, T shapes, etc.).
  • Printed objects can then be used directly, or to create molds…

Industrial and commercial 3D printers can cost $20,000 or more. However, leaders in the open-hardware movement have begun to develop low-cost versions, generally under $2000:

The Makerbot folks have also created a sharing site called Thingiverse, where thousands of people have placed their 3D models for free downloading. (The models can be used with any 3D printer.)



As with the print-on-demand companies described above, these companies will fabricate your 2D or 3D models out of a wide range of materials and finishes. They provide both lasercutting and 3D printing; just upload your file; your part arrives in a couple of days.




There are many others; two systems to keep an eye on are:

Additionally, there are hundreds of components which extend the functionality of these boards:

The creators and distributors have done a lot of work to make this easy to learn. For example:

Arduino also comes in a wide range of physical formats, including the sewable Lilypad Arduino — ideal for building your own soft, interactive garments. There are many components in the Lilypad family.



Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing, or crowdsourced capital) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns.




Work at home, in your underwear. Or, harness thousands of people to help you with your project.

  • Mechanical Turk: https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome
    “Artificial Artificial Intelligence”: Complete simple tasks like transcriptions, categorizations, and spell-checks to earn small amounts of money.
  • Check out Aaron Koblin’s Sheep Market for an idea about how Turk can work for you.

There are many others:



Tools for Sharing and Storing…
You can make your workflow much more efficient with better tools to manage your data. You’ll also never lose your data again.

Tools for Other Activities:

Staying informed informed with Twitter: http://Twitter.com/
Most of you have Facebook accounts, which embeds the “social graph” — the network of people you know (or used to know) in real life. Twitter, on the other hand, embeds the “interest graph” — the network of people interested in what you’re making, and the network of people and organizations that are doing things you find interesting. So here’s another argument for why you might find Twitter to be a good tool for keeping informed about the latest arts opportunities — and developing a (global) audience of people interested in your work, even though they may not know you personally. In the words of Naval Ravikant and Adam Rifkin, Twitter is:

  • Built on one-way following rather than two-way friending
  • Organized around shared interests, not personal relationships
  • Public by default, not private by default
  • Aspirational: not who you were in the past or even who you are, but who you want to be



Places to make things:

Sites where people share instructions for doing and making things:

Real-world places to take workshops in new skills:

Stay informed:



  • Processing, openFrameworks, PureData
  • Github
  • IFTT
  • T-slot aluminum extruded aluminum 80/20
  • Google Sketchup, in-browser CAD
  • WordPress, indexhibit

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