A Different Kind of Disaster


Our intention is to create a generative recursion between a digital, ideal space and real space to create a mixed reality sculpture. Starting with a virtual object, a material collision is simulated in a virtual 3-D environment.  The results of the virtual impacts are 3-D printed and then re-imported into the 3-D space to simulate further collisions.  As a final step we generate a physical sculpture of the end results. 

Project Report:

Colliding in Mixed Realities: A Different Kind of Disaster

What is the meaning of a collision? What is gained and what is lost when objects try to inhabit the same space?

To explore these questions, Christie DeNizio and Stephanie Gonzalez-Turner created A Different Kind of Disaster, a material project that moved back and forth between the digital and real worlds — and that referenced disciplines from astrophysics to engineering to game design — with the goal of creating “a series of mixed reality sculptures.”

Their project began with a material collision simulated in Unity (a software used to develop video games and simulations for computers, consoles and mobile devices), generating artifacts that were 3-D printed to fix in physical form all aspects of the hypothetical impact. They then 3-D scanned the resulting objects back into the program to run a successive simulation, introducing new variables to the virtual process and creating a generative loop between digital, ideal, and real spaces.

Noting the importance of modeling to a range of disciplines, Gonzalez-Turner says, “How could we capture artifacts of a digitally-simulated collision and re-integrate them into subsequent iterations? How would the translation between the virtual and physical manifestation of objects create both information loss and accumulation?” 

As an analogy DeNizio uses the idea of a meteor, which holds in its form the history of material encounters. On one hand, a meteor collision can be seen as a kind of disaster. “On the other,” she says, “it is also a generative process. The matter from the meteor combines with what strikes it — or what it strikes — that then creates a composite material that is introduced to the galaxy.”

As the project moved forward and the pair learned more about both the capacities and limitations of the technologies, they had to be flexible and problem solve for both efficiency and aesthetic considerations. As of this writing, they are working with a 3-D printing company to create the final nylon sculpture, which will be printed in several segments, reassembled, dyed, and suspended from a concrete armature. Other artifacts of the process — including  scale models printed for each round of the recursion — will be included when the sculpture is exhibited at the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media in the fall of 2017.


Christie DeNizio

Christie DeNizio, MFA Painting/Printmaking 2017, Yale School of Art

Christie DeNizio was born in New Jersey and has lived in 8 states since graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012. She worked in the Education departments at various non-profit art museums, including the Chinati Foundation. Her work questions the use value of objects and gestures of participation through painting, sculpture, video and installation. Christie is currently a second-year MFA candidate in the Painting/Printmaking department at Yale School of Art.

Stephanie Gonzalez-Turner, MFA Painting/Printmaking 2017, Yale School of Art

Stephanie Gonzalez-Turner was born in Philadelphia, PA, and earned a degree in English and Fine Art from University of Pennsylvania in 2006. After graduating, she moved to New York City to work in editorial for Art in America. Stephanie’s work manipulates synthetic materials by hand and via digital processes in order to visualize immaterial phenomena. Stephanie is currently a second-year MFA candidate in the
Painting/Printmaking department at Yale School of Art.