• 09.16.10

Robots Assemble a Sculpture From 420,000 Plastic Balls [Updated with Pics and Video]

“Geometric Death Frequency 141” is better than CGI, and worthy of a disaster movie.

Robots Assemble a Sculpture From 420,000 Plastic Balls [Updated with Pics and Video]

[Mass MoCA has sent us new images and video of the process behind Díaz’s robot-built sculpture. See below. –Eds]


Next month, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) will unveil an unbelievable new sculpture: a giant, pixelated black wave crashing into the building. Bonus: It’s made by robots!!!

The sculpture is designed by Prague-based artist Federico Díaz, and when it’s done, it’ll have 420,000 black balls suspended in what appears to be an invisible box, 50-feet-by-20-feet, set down in the heart of the museum’s entry courtyard. From the renderings, the whole thing looks like frozen oil splashing out of a giant vat. That, or CGI from some yet-to-be-made sci-fi-horror-surfer film called Geometric Death Frequency?141 which, incidentally, is the name Díaz gave the piece.

[Click image for larger view]

The idea at play here is a tad dense: It’s meant to be a deconstruction, then reconstruction, of pixels in a digital photograph of the courtyard. Díaz uses algorithms to convert the 2-D data (the photo) into basic 3-D volumes. Then he applies the laws of fluid dynamics to turn the volumes into a massive wave.


After that, the wave’s pixels — represented as little black balls — are CNC-milled, then attached to a giant apparatus by computer-assisted robots. One of the robots will be on hand during the exhibit, assembling balls (and blowing minds). Maybe signing autographs too? Please!

Geometric Death Frequency?141 opens Oct. 23. Stay tuned for more coverage.

[Images courtesy of Mass MoCA]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.