“Making Up 3D Bodies: Artistic and Serendipitous Modeling of Digital Human Figures” by Niehaus and Fiebrink

  • ©Kiona Hagen Niehaus and Rebecca Fiebrink




    Making Up 3D Bodies: Artistic and Serendipitous Modeling of Digital Human Figures



    This paper describes the process of developing a software tool for digital artistic exploration of 3D human figures. Previously available software for modeling mesh-based 3D human figures restricts user output based on normative assumptions about the form that a body might take, particularly in terms of gender, race, and disability status, which are reinforced by ubiquitous use of range-limited sliders mapped to singular high-level design parameters. CreatorCustom, the software prototype created during this research, is designed to foreground an exploratory approach to modeling 3D human bodies, treating the digital body as a sculptural landscape rather than a presupposed form for rote technical representation. Building on prior research into serendipity in Human-Computer Interaction and 3D modeling systems for users at various levels of proficiency, among other areas, this research comprises two qualitative studies and investigation of the impact on the first author’s artistic practice. Study 1 uses interviews and practice sessions to explore the practices of six queer artists working with the body and the language, materials, and actions they use in their practice; these then informed the design of the software tool. Study 2 investigates the usability, creativity support, and bodily implications of the software when used by thirteen artists in a workshop. These studies reveal the importance of exploration and unexpectedness in artistic practice, and a desire for experimental digital approaches to the human form.


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