Images courtesy of the artist.

Artists Turn Skateboarding Tricks into Awesome 3D-Printed Sculptures

Using tracking electronics and software, artist Paul Ferragut of Convivial Studio is turning skateboarding tricks into works of art.

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Aug 1 2017, 3:05pm

Images courtesy of the artist.

Skateboarders have always had a thing about filming their tricks—it's just part of skateboarding culture. French artist and skateboarder Paul Ferragut, of Convivial Studio, takes this impulse to the next level by outfitting custom-made aluminum skateboard trucks with tracking electronics, then using software to recreate his tricks as abstract digital sculptures. But, he doesn't stop there: Ferragut is also turning these digital files into 3D-printed sculptures.

Ferragut tells Creators that he has been skateboarding since he was 12 years old, and has wanted to create an art project around it for quite some time. The opportunity to do so presented itself at an art residency at Pier 9 in San Francisco, a program sponsored by Autodesk. There, Ferragut had the time to focus on the project, and play with a variety of software and 3D-printing tools.

CNC-milled aluminum truck that encased the tracking electronics.

As Ferragut explains, he used a CNC milling machine to craft aluminum skateboard trucks to encase the tracking electronics. The task was tricky, as the electronics couldn't be too intrusive, otherwise tricks could be difficult to pull of. He ultimately succeeded in embedding the tracking hardware in an unobtrusive way, with different sensors capturing orientation and height, and another sensor embedded in the wheel to pick up speed. All of data was recorded to an SD card, which Ferragut imported into software to translate and interpret the data into abstract skateboard trails.

"At first, I had basic trails and I did some particle effects and extra colors, tubes, and pipes," says Ferragut. "Then, I tried to 3D-print some of the records, but I'm not ready to exhibit the 3D-printed sculptures because I don't think they're exciting enough yet."

For now, Ferragut is almost more interested in seeing what the skateboard trails look like digitally. He likes being able to see them online, and imagines seeing a variety of digital recreations of different skateboarders doing the same tricks.

"This is really the first stage for the project," says Ferragut. "The next step is that I want to use a camera and synchronize it with the tracking and then overlay them."

The wheel into which a speed sensor was embedded.

"I'm still interested in sculptures, but probably something other than 3D-printing as a technique," he adds. "I'm interested in doing a sculpture in metal. There would be a sense of motion, displaying the tricks from beginning to end. It would be interesting to get a frozen-in-time idea of what the trick looks like, which you could walk around in a 3D way."

Click here to see more of Convivial Studio's work.

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