Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Fossils from the Future

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posted on 2021-02-22, 01:55 authored by Salter, Jessica

Morphological Timeline: A frame based timeline within the software Houdini that visually simulates the possible variations in form.

The future surrounding our world is unknown and difficult to foresee. There is a desire to communicate the innumerable amount of data produced from advanced scientific research about our present and predicted world into mediums that are comprehensible to the general audience.

This research explores the opportunity for data to be translated into an easily interpretable visual and physical medium. By using a procedural system, this allows for an undetermined number of outcomes to be explored efficiently, including those which are initially unknown or cannot be perceived. This is in contrast to traditional 3D modelling software, where the designer must fully control and manipulate the finer details of a model.

In this research portfolio, a Research Through Design methodology is utilised to enable practical experimentation based on a design criterion, incrementally developed alongside the progression of the experiments. Through screen-based visualisations, the possible products of a procedural system are presented as a morphological timeline¹. The designer’s implementation and influence of this procedural system guide the direction of this timeline through parameter manipulation, without having a precise vision for the output.

Through extracting models at desired points along the morphological timeline and applying a voxel-based 3D printing approach on the Stratasys J 750 to encapsulate them in resin (VeroClear), the models are introduced into the tangible dimension. This translates the screen-based model into a physical fossil to communicate information through a tangible medium. These fossils intend to elicit discussion around production of artefacts that are not yet known or cannot be perceived. Acting as a viewpoint, the procedural system may visually anticipate these products before privileging the physical. Hence the 3D printed object is provided as a new spatial understanding to communicate information.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Industrial Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design Innovation


Guy, Bernard; Stevens, Ross