A Bookshelf

Now that I’ve spent about 7 hours using the CNC machine I’m getting pretty comfortable with it. I’ve learned that the machine definitely is a little crooked because of the flooring, and that the wood I used was bent toward the center resulting in pieces that didn’t breakthrough. Although Mastercad is an ugly interface, I’m used to the work flow now, and I barely have to go back to my Vectorworks file to edit before milling. I definitely didn’t expect each piece to take about an hour to mill. And if I didn’t get sick over break, I would have had enough time to finish this before class. I drastically underestimated the time I would need on the CNC machine, and having everyone using it around the same time didn’t help.


First, I sketched out each piece on paper to visualize how much wood I’ll need.

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Then I created 3 Vectorworks files, one for the back, one for the two sides, and one for the top and bottom. As you can see below, I didn’t add any pockets on the top and bottom of the side parts, which I realized was a mistake later.

In order to get the dimensions right, I made a tiny model out of paper with the measurements to see how the parts connected.


Once I got all my measurements in order I went to Mastercad and started with the pockets for each file and then added contouring. Because I used a single rabbit joint, I set the pockets to be half of the width of the plywood which was .725, so my pockets were set to .363 (that’s with .5 added tolerance). I also double checked that the settings were on Absolute.


My plywood was cut to about the size of the bed (4 x 4) and screwed into place with 5 screws.


I realized there was a slight bend in the middle of the wood. Unfortunately, no screws could fix this issue.


I loaded the “back” piece and after pressing start I realized that I didn’t zero the mill far enough to the left on the X axis. The mill went off the side of the wood, so I loaded the side pieces and re-purposed that piece of plywood for those two parts.


Once the side pieces finished I started milling the top and bottom parts. Something strange happened during this process. The piece of plywood was also bent in the middle and this caused the mill to miss the middle of the pocket during the first couple of runs.


This surprised me because half way through the process, it started milling the middle in what seemed like an even line all the way from one side to the other!


The finished top piece didn’t go all the way through on the other side, but looked pretty good from the front.


The bottom piece milled the same way the top did, leaving out the middle until creating a heavy line midway through the process.


The last piece I milled was the back. I made sure to zero the machine all almost all the way to the left on the X axis. To my dismay, and because of the wood being bent in the middle, the CNC started milling the tab in the middle upper portion of the wood and scraped the middle of it on it’s way over there. I stopped the process and started again, zeroing the Z axis a little higher, but that wasn’t enough either and I ended up with two marks in the middle of my nice piece of wood.


Eventually, I had to bring the Z axis much farther up so the bit could pass the middle bent section without hitting it. That resulted in my entire piece not breaking through to the other side.


I had to do something about the fact that most of my pieces didn’t breakthrough so I grabbed a hand tool to take off the edges of some of my pieces.


That left me with quite a bit of sanding to do. I made sure to not sand down the pockets like I did when I practiced making my joints.


The sanded pieces looked pretty good after a while, aside from the back piece which had the two track marks in it.


Then it was time to glue the pieces together. I started with the top and bottom and glued it to the back with 4 90 degree clamps.


Once I had both sides clamped there wasn’t much more I could do because the CNC was booked until the next day when I had 3 more hours in the evening to finish the shelves and two doors. That was around the time I got a text from NYU saying they would be closed the next day due to a snowstorm. I left the top, bottom, and back pieces for the snowday clamped together for a strong hold.

Time is not on my side, credenza.

Having been sick for a majority of spring break I’ve decided against my original plan to make a credenza because I just won’t have enough time to make it really nice and polished. I also realized that the CNC machine has a bed with a limit of 4 x 4 that would have a long cabinet like I wanted. Working within my new time frame, here are a few ideas:

Entryway cabinet

I like how the wood grain is positioned here. link

Shoe Caddy:

I like the side of this piece at the bottom, and the fact that it has a surface on top which could be useful. link

Putting together these two ideas, I could create a storage cabinet for underneath my kitchen counter, which is something I actually need so I may go forth with that idea. Something along the lines of this with doors. link

I’m going to use a single rabbit joint to ensure everything fits properly, and so that I can complicate the design a little bit without worrying misfits. I like the way it looks better than the double rabbit and I think my pieces will be tighter since I’m more confident with this approach.


Final Proposal – Inspiration & Ideas

While thinking about what I want to do for my final I came across this amazing video using video mapping and an amazing dancer.

I’d like to incorporate music — possibly the song “Summertime” by Janis Joplin since it’s been in my head ever since this class started.  In order to include aspects of live music I assume I’ll have to use a MIDI interface of some kind. I found the video below to help me with that kind of set up.

Maybe I could do a live manipulation of that song that visualizations. Otherwise, I think I’ll expand this idea to include a live instrument perhaps. I like the idea of projection mapping and I wonder how I could include that in my performance. It would be interesting to use a person as a blank slate and map on certain images to their body while moving. Or something like this:

On the other hand, I really enjoy some performance art pieces that involve the audience so I may want to incorporate that aspect somehow. One thing I need to know is what my limitations are with Isadora. I want to use this program primarily but I’m not sure what I can and cannot do with it in terms of musical interfaces and projection mapping.



Jointery – 2nd Try

While thinking about what I want to ultimately do for my midterm, I realized that it would be a good idea to try and perfect the joint I’ll be using in order to save time. A double rabbet joint should suffice for the credenza I’ll be adapting from this work plan.

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I ran into a few problems when attempting this type of joint. First, I created two identically measured pieces in Vectorworks and brought it into Mastercam and then to the CNC machine. I laid down the wood only to realize once I had everything set and I was about to press “start” that I had aligned the wood improperly on the bed.

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I needed to set it up so that the blank area of the wood was along the X axis not the Y. So I re-positioned it and then I was all set to go.
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After about 12 minutes here’s what I ended up with:

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Not a great fit, I know, but it allowed me to see where I needed to subtract from each piece.
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I went back to Vectorworks and Mastercam and made my adjustments.
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By the end of that run cycle I ended up with two pieces that fit together almost perfectly!

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When I looked at the two pieces fitting together very closely I realized that in Vectorworks I didn’t round the corners on the inside of the pockets which could be why they weren’t sitting entirely flush.

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Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the progress I had made and what I learned from taking the time to really get this joint down. I’d like to know how I can figure out the math behind this without having to make two identical parts first.

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Memory and The Narrative Experience

Please play this song while reading:

While reviewing all the museum visits and assignments we had for this class I started thinking about memory and how it relates to narrative experiences. That prompted me to do some research about written history. Which then led me to remember Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” from 1931. Created during a time when he was practicing a sort of subconscious, dream inspired form of painting, this work of art manages to capture the sense of loss ingrained in timelessness. It makes for an interesting philosophical conversation about the meaning of recognized physical time like what you see on a clock, and the sense and feeling of time not existing. So, how does this relate to memory? In some ways we experience the reflection of memories we’ve had in a space in our mind that is without the time and space that was relevant at that time. In other words, when we reflect upon our memories, they exist in a point in time that no longer exists to us, and so it is abstracted from its original place in time. We call it into our conscious and allow our minds to conceptualize how it relates to our current thought process. But to go back to Dali, his painting speaks to the feeling of the passage of time that we experience specifically when we dream. But what does this say about memory? If we go a little further with the title of this painting, it could be about the way we experience memories in time and how we misplace where certain memories happened and how we hold on to certain memories over others and then formulate a history for ourselves based upon our self-constructed view of our past. Our whole identities are, in some way, created by the way we string our life events and our memories of them, together, in an order.

With all of that in mind, there’s something very interesting happening with the way we store our memories outside of ourselves today. A narrative experience or history used to be passed down by family members or close friends. Storytelling was a sort of “telephone game” where stories would get passed down from generation to generation and each time it would adjust a little depending on who was telling the story. These days, with the advent of social media and telecommunications, storytelling and the narrative that is formed out of it is vastly different than it was before electronic communication existed. The way we rely on our histories differs now because we can go back and look at a picture of something we remember or search google for facts (which may not be the correct term to use in this day and age) or so called factual information for confirmation of our memories. But this may alter how we view our own memory of something. Technology has, in a sense, altered our collective consciousness.

Today, it’s kind of rare to see anyone journal their lives in the ways people did before computers existed. We have so many other ways of communicating what our lives are like for others to view. Which is not to say that keeping a journal was necessarily produced for the public eye in the way that Facebook and Instagram are today. Rather, keeping a diary of your daily life is meant to remember the memories you’ve had. It’s meant to track life the way it happened, personally. Today our diaries are all published to the public, and we portray views of ourselves that we wish other people have of us, rather than a documentation of our memories of the day. Memories, as a result, may have shifted greatly due to these exaggerations of our daily lives on social media.

With that in mind, Dali in 1954, in response to the aforementioned painting, created “The Disintegration Of The Persistence of Memory.” It demonstrates the difference in the way time and memory was thought about in the 1950’s when nuclear physics was becoming a dangerous reality and the thought that human destruction could happen at the fault of humanity rather than cosmic fate. I believe this painting has significance today because of the way we store our memories on our computers whether it’s pictures on Dropbox or Facebook messages to someone who is deceased or what we post to show what we want to project our lives as being to our social media network, these methods of keeping and telling a narrative story about ourselves are vastly different than they were in a pre-internet, pre-telecommunicative world possibly because of how prevalent it is.

On that note, to make things a little lighter, let’s go back to the idea of keeping a journal or diary today. What keeps a written history for us these days more than our google search results? It is directly related to the way we think about and perceive ourselves and others. It provides insight to what I was thinking at a specific point in time and is registered. When my last living grandparent died in 2001, I remember going through her physical memories, looking at her St. Jude statue that she buried little prayers about her children and grandchildren inside the nook it’s sleeves. I recall going through photo albums of her memories some of which I was a part of. But my children will probably go through digital memories. They’ll look online through archives of photos on DropBox, through my neglected Facebook page and my decaying hard drives full of content.

This begs the question: what are we without our memories? If all of these physical and digital remembrances get deleted or lost, we have to rely on what we solely remember them as in our memory.  We depend on technology so much these days to keep track of what happened to us and when, but I think in a lot of ways we forget who we really are because of the arena we portray ourselves in and the way people are allowed to demonstrate the way they want to be rather than the way they actually are through social media today.

The 5 years I spent as a computer technician gave me a lot of insight into how people relate to their stored identities. Customers would come in and start crying that they their computer won’t turn on and they’re worried that they just lost all the photos of their new baby. Well, if you didn’t have these backed up and data recovery was too expensive or just didn’t work, then yes, you would no longer have these photos. But you would have the remaining memories of these pictures, and with time, perhaps they would become distorted like the imagery of the Dali paintings are. Seeing just how upset it would make people to lose the digital versions of themselves made it all the more clear that our digital selves are indeed a major part of our narrative, and it serves as proof of our memories. Without that we are left feeling a bit devoid of our history and lacking in a general collective narrative experience that exists in a very strong apparatus today.


Some questions that arose from this assignment:

How do we create a collective narrative around memories when our individual consciousness differs so greatly?

What kind of grasp do you have on life if you’re without your memories? Who are you without your memories?

Who are we if we’re only given an opportunity to show ourselves through what we remember about our pasts?





Final Project Ideas

As the last assignment for this class I was thinking of either adding to the New York assignment or creating a narrative experience of some kind (maybe through video) using something I’ve done since 2011. Each month I pick a song of the month which is determined by how often it was stuck in my head or sang out loud and I write it down. Looking back each month of each year, I’m able to remember what was going on at that time.

Midterm Ideas & Notes

Things I may want to try:

1. Using mirrors — multiple me’s running into each other.

2. Using fake walls inside of the locker (for projection proportion purposes).

3. Still image as background and something to look at that will effect that background on the front of the locker.

4. Running up a physical ramp into the distance (After Effects to key myself smaller while running away).

5. Box inside of a box, inside of a box…etc.

6. LED lights from Arduino.

I think I want the background image to be a picture of a tsunami because the theme of our illusion is dream based and one dream I remember very well was an end of the world nightmare.

Another idea is to have a physical wall inside of the locker and have a pepper’s ghost illusion version of me running through a wall.




This weeks assignment to make a joint with the big CNC proved to be a very challenging task. Getting the tolerances right mathematically stumped me a bit and it was hard to conceptualize what was going to happen in a 2D model in Vectorworks. You’d think a simple looking joint like a half lap would be easy to figure out — it wasn’t! I decided upon a half lap joint in order to make a short corner bookshelf. Once I got home though, I realized that the 90 degree angle I had planned to put the furniture was anything but 90 degrees. Now I think I’ll make a short TV stand instead for the midterm.

In Vectorworks I ran into a lot of problems figuring out where I needed to add tolerance and how to go about adding it without ending up with a solid filled shape.

Unfortunately the first attempt to mill didn’t work out because of a common problem placing the X axis all the way forward on the Y axis when zeroing out. The next day the I was able to start milling!

Mastercam was a bit of a nightmare this time around. It wouldn’t let me mill completely around the left square so I had to invididually set each side of the square which is why I think I ended up with a nasty looking edge on one of them. Also the mill didn’t cut all the way through my material even though I set the breakthrough to 0.05 and I rounded up my material thickness. I may chalk that up to the spoil board being pretty wobbly and the position of the wood on the machine was further back to avoid any X axis problems again.
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After having completed my weird looking probably not a real sturdy joint skill exercise I’m a little freaked out about using joints for the midterm. I’ll definitely need some help figuring out how to do the math associated with tolerances and jointery in general.

Nothing Midterm Progress

For the midterm our team of four decided upon an illusion that will take place inside each of our lockers. The other day we filmed each other in front of a green screen doing the activity we want to project. This was the first time I’ve ever gotten rid of a background in After Effects and replaced it with something else. The background I chose for the video as practice isn’t what I’m going to use. I also need to consider the amount of green screen space needed in order to run. The idea is to have myself running back and forth between the two metal walls of my locker as though I’m trapped inside but disappearing in and out of the walls.

I realized through this editing process that I want to change almost everything!

Green Screen Test from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.


Memory Box

In response to our visit to the City Reliquary Museum, I decided to create a narrative experience around a memory box I’ve been keeping since I was a kid. A couple of times a year or so I’ll add an object to the box – it’s now overflowing with things. These are a few keepsakes that I grabbed at random from it.

(In order to see the descriptions of the memory associated with the picture you have to make the slideshow fullscreen…or click here.)

And a funny thing happened when I started taking photos. I realized that I have the same sticker in my high school wallet from 2000 that the City Reliquary Museum has on the scavenger hunt cards they gave us! It’s the same 15th Anniversary sticker…Maybe that’s why I was drawn to this memory box as an assignment?