Last train is a project by Ron Arad that I have been involved in over the last couple of years. The piece was commissioned by the diamond company Steinmetz, and inspired by a story from Arad’s youth where, as he attempted to catch the last train out of Naples, he saw a young man scratching an elaborate image onto a train window with a diamond ring. Arad missed his train but felt that he had been rewarded by seeing this beautiful work. This piece is inspired by that memory. It is an interactive drawing tool that allows participants to create glass etchings using an iPad. The lines sketched on the device are sent to a custom built CMC machine where they are recreated by a mechanical fist adorned with a ring designed by Arad.
Many artists were invited to contribute a sketch to this project – Anthony Gormley, Grayson Perry, David Shrigley, Tim Noble, Sue Webster, Richard Wilson to name just a few. Ai Weiwei also recorded a sketch remotely from China. The resulting Glass etchings are exhibited next to the piece in illuminated glass frames.
My role was in this project was to design and build the software that would record the drawings and send them to the separately contracted machine. There are 2 pieces of software, both built using openFrameworks. The iPad app records drawn lines and continuously sends them wirelessly to the PC software via OSC. The PC app then receives this data, formats it and sends it in a timely fashion to the CMC machine via ofSerial (monitoring the machine’s internal buffer to avoid overloading). Finally the machine perfectly recreates the sketch by moving the cast of Arad’s fist and running the extruded the diamond across the glass.
I take a great deal of satisfaction working on tools that allow people to express themselves in new forms so this was a particularly rewarding project to be a part of. To see so many esteemed artists use the piece to produce new work was a particular highlight.