And this was no different for the Lexus installation. Following the YET theme, Oxman and the Mediated Matter group, her dream team from the MIT Media Lab, presented another breakthrough project. Involving a series of three-metre-tall 3D-printed glass columns, it created a mystic immersive experience. Oxman explains how they interpreted the theme of YET in three different ways: through light, glass, and experience. In a video interview, she points out: “Light is a wave yet it is a particle; it has that kind of interesting physical duality that any visitor will feel. Glass, a material through which light is reflected and refracted, is over 6000 years old, yet it’s a modern material. And with the glass printer we are giving it a new interpretation. Third is the actual experience ... a space that’s grounded yet suspended – the feeling of being balanced and grounded [while also] being suspended and looking up at the stars, at the moon. We hope we have created a cosmic, caustic experience.”
The 3D-glass printer offers a big advantage over traditional glass manufacturing, as it is able to produce interior surfaces as complex as exterior surfaces. Through digital fabrication, shapes and textures can be created and controlled to achieve the finest resolution. For the YET installation, the team has upped its game, creating a second-generation 3D-glass printer. “It’s a high-fidelity, large-scale, additive-manufacturing technology for 3D-printing optically transparent glass structures at architectural dimensions.” The installation thus demonstrates the potential for creating more than vessels and products, such as building façades and large-scale components. Displayed is of a series of sculptural, architectural-scale, 3D-printed glass columns, fitted with a dynamic internal lighting system programed to travel up and down each column and generate a large, caustic footprint with kaleidoscopic patterns. “The caustics are the sums of light rays reflected and/or refracted dynamically by the curved surface of the glass column over the surrounding walls and floor of the exhibition space”, states the Mediated Matter group.