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Augmenting Craft with Mixed Reality: A Case Study Project of AR-driven Analogue Clay Modelling

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Chun Hin Fong, Jacky Long Wun Poon, Adabelle Sze Ngan, Wing Hei Ho, Chung Garvin Goepel Kristof Crolla
This paper discusses novel methods for and advantages of integrating augmented reality (AR) and photogrammetry in hand clay-sculpting workflows. These techniques permit nontrained users to achieve higher precision during the sculpting process by holographically overlaying instructions from digital 3D source geometry on top of the sculpting material. By employing alternative notational systems in design implementation methods, the research positions itself in a postdigital context aimed at humanizing digital technologies. Throughout history, devices have been developed to increase production, such as Henry Dexter’s 1842 “Apparatus for Sculptors” for marble sculpting. Extrapolating from this, the workflow presented in this paper uses AR to overlay extracted information from 3D models directly onto the sculptor’s field of vision. This information can then become an AR-driven guidance system that assists the sculptor. Using the Microsoft HoloLens, holographic instructions are introduced in the production sequence, connecting the analog sculpture fabrication directly with a digital environment, thus augmenting the craftspeople’s agency. A series of AR-aided sculpting methods were developed and tested in a demonstrator case study project that created a small-scale clay copy of Henry Moore’s Sheep Piece (1971–1972). This paper demonstrates how user-friendly software and hardware tools have lowered the threshold for end users to develop new methods that straightforwardly facilitate and improve their crafts’ effectiveness and agency. This shows that the fusion of computational design technology and AR visualization technology can innovate a specific craft’s design and production workflow, opening the door for further application developments in more architecture-specific fabrication contexts.