The work developed at my residency at the Fabrication Lab at Westminster University with the support of the A-N artist development bursary, went into my workshop The Big Data Cut-Up at the annual Fabfest “Digital City” festival at the P3 Ambika Gallery in central London 7th July 2018. My workshop was themed around the explorations I had been doing with the laser cutters, offering participants to assemble and paint a series of small sculptures made from my everyday actions such as making porridge, school run, phone call, and tracing the route of my healthcare data across the UK.

The workshop also included a collage-making station where participants were invited to create their own stop-motion films using images scraped from children website. The films were projected in the gallery space as we went along. My collaborator Loes gave me a tip to use google ‘publish to the web’ function as a way to showcase the participants work online as they were making it,  and this worked out quite well.

You can see samples of the children stop-motion gifs here. The mini sculptures were assembled and coloured in, and some even created new shapes by combining the different models together.


Following from my last post, in which I talked about turning a 2D drawing into a 3D model, and back into a 2 plan for the laser cutter to work on, the next step is assembling the models. After a series of experimentation, I ended up with four different models created from tracing the movement of different everyday actions such as making porridge, talking on the phone, school run, and tracing where my healthcare data travels within the UK. All of the sculptures consist of two planes (y and z) which fit into one another forming a spatial shape. Since I wanted the sculptures to be a part of the workshop I was hosting at the FabFest 2018  at Ambika 3 gallery on the 7th July 2018, it became important to try out assembly methods that the kids were able to do.

My mate Erica turned out to be excellent in coming up with tactile assembly methodologies that were easier than the more abstract method of pairing up x and y numbers to assemble the sculptures. The kids really enjoyed this. Check out how Erica is assembling the ‘phone call’ here:

Testing out some different approaches with the kids at home, they quickly developed favourite sculptures and became experts in assembling them.


Creating digitally fabricated objects from everyday body movement includes modelling such actions in a 3D environment.  To create a basic shape, I first traced my footsteps around the kitchen space while making porridge. I could also have traced my hands, the movement of my head, or used other circuit of movement to create the perspective from which the shape is created. The shapes which are created through the movement of the body exist within the spatial boundaries defined by some outer points of the activity (see earlier previous blog post), which are then recreated digitally. I now walk you through the process from having created the basic shape – to drawing it up in Rhino, making it a 3D object, and preparing it as a modular form using the software SlicerforFusion360, in which the files can be prepared for the laser cutter. I created a step-by-step manual to for the process, which goes:


Step 1: create 3D drawing in Rhino

Open Rhinoceros (hereafter Rhino)

Use the import image command to bring the drawing into Rhino

Trace the route with as few control points as possible (the laser reads all control points so its more efficient with less point).

Take notice of what perspective you are in for the next step – it will decide the orientation of the 3D model

Choose a method for turning it 3D (revolve, extrude, solid – different methods for different purposes)

Save as .obj file format


Step 2: Slice the model to make it modular

Open SlicerforFusion360 (plugin for 360 autocad)

Make a new manufacturing format:

  • Thickness of material card /fdm
  • Name process
  • Set  margin 5
  • Set mm
  • Set material size (400×600) Corrugated card

I used 3.8mm corrugated card, so the joints need to be 3.8mm (thickness)

Choose slicing method

Choose slicing distance / number of x and y iterations

When you are happy with the sliced model

Go to the bottom left, press “save model” then press “get plans”, choose to save in file format .dfx

Step 3: prepare the model for the laser cutter (laser template is in Rhino)

Open Rhino again

Choose the model plans (the .dfx format)

Import setting: check “keep original layers”

Go to “front view” window

Select All

Use “turn 2D” command

Go to “perspective” window

Use “selsrf” (select surfaces) command

Use “hide” command

Then you are left with the 2D plans that the laser cutter can read


Put the plans onto the newest print template from the lab

Make sure that the drawing is within boundaries of the laser cutter bed and within the size of the material.

Assign the layer colours (engraving, cut perimeter, cut internal, etching etc)

Because the plans have a lot of annotations for each small part, go to the righthand menu, press “select layer”, because the layers are imported you can assign the engraving layer to all the annotations by pressing “assign layer”. Should be ready to go to print, but I made a checklist with tips that I gathered from the excellent lab staff:

Rhino check design

Check duplicates

Join all lines

Put Material on bed, tape it down if necessary

Use the Pin to set the laser, move bed up

Type Print in rhino

Press ok

Click job in laser program (make sure previous is deleted)

Select material

Press the project field

Press update to process and time

To see job press ‘Cntr i’ for preview project

Check design is in bed

Check Pin is aligned

Check material is correct

Press ready

Press run


The laser then cuts and annotates the different parts – which then following have to be assembled. You can read about that in my next post.