Invisible Cities


A project with Yiyang Liang

Sculpting Data into Everyday Objects | ITP NYU | Instructor: Esther Cheung

Technologies: Python, NLTK, Rhino-python, Rhinoceros, 3D printing

Invisible Cities: Sculpting Poetry into Imaginary Cities

Celebrating Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities”, our project sculpts the words of “City and the Sky” into a 3D printed generative fragment of Upper East Manhattan that reimagines 69 blocks of the city.

To generate the sculpture we assigned one of six possible classes to each word of the text: verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and other words; and assigned a unique building typology to each class, to map the position of the word in the text to a physical position within Manhattan’s grid. For example, every time a verb appears in the text, it would be represented by a skyscraper mapped to its relative position within Manhattan’s grid. The resulting model was edited in Meshlab and Netfabb to repair the meshes and to prepare it for printing. The final model was printed on a Z Corporation Z Printer 650.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 1.21.11 AMIn order to do this we assigned six different urban typologies to six word categories (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc). The building typologies are distributed following the occurrence of the words in Calvino’s text.Poster2In the following slide, you can see the ‘government building type’, a building typology that represents the occurrence of one of the five cities in Calvino’s text-Eudoxia, Beersheba, Thekla, Perinthia, and Andria.CitiesEach block contains sixteen lots, each of one containing one ‘building structure’.   Blocks

3D Model Design Process

A render during the design process, showing the different building types before assembling the model.Process

A previous iteration generated by an algorithm that places buildings based on the frequency of appearance of the first two letters of each word in the text.city1

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