Touch it, Read it, Keep it
Laser sinted nylon 10.2014

Sentimental moments that should not be forgotten.

From the earliest idea to the final outcome of a project, communication through email plays a pivotal part of the creation process between a client and an agency. Our Creative Directors and producers at Hi-ReS! would often communicate through email to clients. Thoughts also carry emotion and sentiment which when composed into sentences create something meaningful. 

We asked ourselves at Hi-ReS! what if we were to make the intangible, tangible? Thoughts that carry weight which can be touched and held by our clients? A memento of the process that could outlast the result. Our idea was to create physical mementos as gifts as a way for us to celebrate and remember the time we spent together.

When 3D printing became accessible through online platforms like Shapeways it opened up a lot of possibilities to 3D artists. My work until this point has been fixed to the confines of a monitor, every 3D artwork has merely been a projection into 2D screen space. Being able to touch a 3D model of my design was an interesting prospect especially when Shapeways offers a variety of materials to print in.

My approach was to create these sculptures dynamically in Maya using python. My earlier work with procedural fractals provided me with a good understanding of the PyMEL API. But before I could get carried away on the 3D models I needed some data to work with.

I ran the emails through an online NLP sentiment analysis service which scored each sentence of the email with a sentiment value from 0 - 1. To communicate this data easier with our creative directors I created a simple visualisation tool in Scriptographer. Visualising the sentences using scale seemed like an interesting approach visually for 3D.

My first sculpture in Maya used the edges of an icosahedron to wrap the words of the email around. It created an interesting visual but wasn’t very legible. After printing this sculpture out it also didn’t stand up very well by itself.

Taking these learnings into account I started working on a new design. I used sine waves to wrap the sentences around one another, using a wire to connect the string of letters. The text became more legible and the sentiment of the sentences became clearer. 

If you’ve worked with 3D printing before you’ll likely know about minimal wall thicknesses per material and the many other pain points of making sure your model is printable. Shapeways does a great job of visualising problems with your model before you print. Most of my issues trickled down to wall thicknesses with the letters and the wire holding the sentences together.

Upon receiving the new sculptures back from Shapeways, our team was really happy with the outcome. We packaged these mementos up and sent them off to our clients in a custom made box with a special note.

Closing Thoughts

Collaboration is a beautiful process. It brings forth new perspectives on problem solving and unites us together whilst developing friendships.

Creating these mementos for our clients was our way to celebrate and appreciate the poetic journey we shared with them from start to end 🖤.



Creative Developer