[ISEA2009] Paper: Andrew Folan – Grasping the untouchable: the externalization of virtually created entities


This paper explores the convergence of the diagnostic imaging method of computed axial tomography with the additive manufacturing method of rapid prototyping. This occurs through the common use of the layer as an incremental slice through a spatial entity. Both technologies have key functions of relevance in the extension, augmentation and replacement of organs of the human body. Both have unlimited potential within the creative sphere of art and design. By locating these technologies within the subject of virtual reality I will demonstrate how their interrelated use generates a feedback loop from actual to virtual and from virtual back to actual. This feedback has a value in the understanding of how humans interact with virtual space and in determining what can be gained by this interaction.

Both of these technologies are isomorphic in that their functions are predicated on a progressive layer-based system. In the case of tomography, scans are made through a body or object, in a sequence of slices, which are then digitally assembled to form a virtual entity. In the case of rapid prototyping, a virtual entity may be translated into a physical object through the fixing of granular material in a sequence of layers. The isomorphic nature of the analytic and synthetic functions of these two technologies enables the potential for a flow of information from actual to virtual and vice versa. This flow is an agent in the symbiotic convergence of reality with virtual reality and is fundamental to the concept of the post-human.

  • Andrew Folan The National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland

Full Text (PDF) p.  589-595