Below is a case study on using Grasshopper and several other plugins to generate visual representations of (social) data on a map. This method along with some additions to query and pull social data automatically and possibly the functionality of tying directly back into Google Earth to update the imagery will provide very useful to inform us of how social systems shift on local and macro levels.
From Metaball Diagrams with Google Earth and gHowl
“Google Earth presents an intuitive, dynamic platform for understanding spatial context. Combined with a parametric modeler likeGrasshopper, Google Earth presents complex datasets relative to geo-positioning in a way that is understandable. Facilitated by GH plugin gHowl, GH meshes and lines can be exported in Google Earth’s .kml format to be viewed by Google Earth or an enabled web browser.
Creating legible geometry for Google Earth is challenging, but one type of geometry I’ve experimented with is GH’s metaballs, which are about as old school as it gets for 3D curvature. Metaballs, as described by Yoda (Greg Lynn), are “defined as a single surface whose contours result from the intersection and assemblage of the multiple internal fields that define it.” (Lynn, Blobs, Journal of Philosophy and the Visual Arts 1995). This aggregation of internal fields can provide an intuitive understanding of various contextual forces relative to the spatial context of a site. While GH metaballs are only curves and not meshes / surfaces you can easily use a delaunay mesh to begin to create a mesh.
This tutorial will walk through the process of creating metaballs from Geo coordinates. I’m using a map I created with Elk that is based off of Open Street Maps info, if you’re interested in doing something similar look here.
Just click on the images below if you’d like to see them in more detail.
Start by positioning your Geo coordinates in GH space through gHowl’s Geo To XYZ module.”
For the final build I unfolded the full-size paper model and traced it on the foam core. I used push-pins to mark the vertices and then drew lines from point to point.
I used a 45° foam cutter and tried to get as close to the paper on the other side as I could. That way I would be able to make the folds easily with out too much resistance. I cut the outline with a regular Exacto after I made all the 45° cuts.
At this point I stopped taking photos because I was stressing to get the model finished. The Moustachio Bashio was that night. The folding worked pretty well with the 45s taken out. It could have been better though. I did meet some resistance which meant I had to be creative to get the final model stay together without deforming. Using spray adhesive and the brown wrapping paper that the foam came in, I bonded the open faces together.
This was harder than I expected, and because I was rushing turned out to be a little sloppier than I would have liked. The form was still pretty fragile and would not hold its shape well so I threaded a needle and sewed supporting strings into the back. This worked really well. I only needed 5 reinforcing tethers. At this point I was backstage at the venue and the first DJ was warming up so I just used white Gaff tape to attach the model to the back face. Luckily you couldn’t tell once it was hung. We had already done a placement test and calibrated the projector earlier that week. Once I finished the model I hung it right up with two chains that hooked into eyelets bolted into the plywood backing. Boy did being finished feel amazing. I came super close to having nothing to show for all my efforts.
This is from the placement test the week before. Our host Danger is obviously having fun.
After jumping through some hoops I finally got into the FabLab and got the back of the Stache cut out.
I printed out a full scale paper cut out for a keen $40 and went to work folding up the final mock up before I went to foam core.
I used Rhino 3D to generate a form from curves that I imported from Illustrator.
I then used Pepakura to unfold the model build a scale paper cut out version.