Self-Assembly Line

Skylar Tibbits, Arthur Olson & SEED Phyllotaxis Lab

The Self-Assembly Line, completed for TED Long Beach 2012, is a project done in collaboration with the molecular biologist Arthur Olson at the Scripps Research Institute and Seed’s Phyllotaxis Lab. This installation was a large-scale version of a self-assembly virus capsid, demonstrated as an interactive and performative structure. A discrete set of modules were activated by stochastic rotation from a larger container that promoted the interaction between units. The unit geometry and attraction mechanisms ensured that units came into contact with one another and auto-aligned into locally correct configurations. Overtime, as more units came into contact, broke away, and reconnected, larger furniture-scale elements emerged. Given different sets of unit geometries and attraction polarities, various structures could be achieved. By changing the external conditions, the geometry of the unit, the attraction of the units and the number of units supplied, the desired global configurations can be easily programmed.