An artist’s creative abilities can prove useful in unexpected ways. I have considerable expertise with digital fabrication tools: 3D printers, laser cutters, and other computer-controlled machines. I have also created several art projects—most notably my Marching Cubes projects—that feature hundreds or even thousands of repeated parts. I put these skills and experiences to use during the Covid-19 pandemic as the leader of the UCI Face Shield project. In the first seventeen days, my team (of over fifty faculty, staff, and students at the University of California, Irvine) and I designed, tested, fabricated, packaged, and delivered five thousand face shields to the UCI Medical Center. These shields performed better and cost less than other available emergency options. We subsequently delivered an additional fifteen thousand face shields, operating our emergency factory until supply chains returned to normal.
The wall panel Twenty Thousand Faces, permanently installed at UCI Beall Applied Innovation, where the shields were made, commemorates this collective effort; Five Thousand Faces is a portable quarter-scale prototype. Both were created from waste material generated by the shield-making effort: laser-cut transparent acrylic off-cuts and 3D-printed plastic tracings, each of which carries the distinctive geometric signature of the original PPE end product.
Suspended wall panel. Waterjet-cut polycarbonate, laser-cut acrylic, 3D-printed PLA plastic, stainless steel hardware. 67”H x 91.5”H x 3”D, 2020.
Permanent installation at UCI Beall Applied Innovation.
Suspended wall panel. Waterjet-cut polycarbonate, laser-cut acrylic, 3D-printed PLA plastic, stainless steel hardware. 42.5″H x 67”W x 3”D, 2020.
Assembly assistance by Ivy Guild.