Fighting {S}Words

Author: Anna Summary: A process to generate blades from battle speeches and other audio waveforms. Abstract: This is a bit of processing code that takes audio waveforms and exports them to line files that can then be manipulated in CAD software to create physical blades. Repository:

This whole concept first occurred to me several years ago when I began writing a short piece of fiction called “Unsung”, based in a universe where sound energy and matter were easily interchangeably. Because of some magic, one can speak a word and receive an object. Tables, chairs, houses, and entire cities are fabricated via sound.

Of course, because humanity can’t really help itself, this power is also used as a weapon. Words suddenly take on more than just a transient quality. They’re blades. They’re walls. They do lasting physical and psychological damage.

I’ve always been fascinated with the power of words, whether as weapons or tools of encouragement, praise, exultation, or despair.

My initial idea for this project was to turn specific words that carry heavy connotations or strong imagery, and turn them via CAD into tangible blades, as a literal representation of their power.

I (at least for the moment) moved away from single words in favor of speeches, because for the purpose of generating swords it was easier to use a longer waveform.

The blade generated in the video and depicted below is King Theoden’s [very depressing] monologue in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, immediately before Helm’s Deep. The character is played by Bernard Hill.



Here is a second blade, this one created from the “Once More Unto the Breach” monologue from Shakespeare’s Henry V, recited by Tom Hiddleston.

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 9.57.18 PM

Unfortunately, the initial 3D print of the Theoden blade didn’t register the text inscribed on the surface even though it was theoretically part of the STL file. I hope to return to the machine shop next week with a tool path and CNC the text onto the blade, then paint it, and give it a handle.

Ultimately, I would like to generate a collection of these blades spanning both real speeches and fictional works, and begin to compare and contrast the blade forms. I would also like to fabricate these blades out of steel instead of plastic.

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About Anna

I am a 2nd-year master's student in the communication planning & information design (CPID) program. I have a B.S. in engineering with a concentration in bio-materials, and—possibly as a result—I am passionate about the future of healthcare and medical technology. If left to my own devices, I will curl up in a ball and write fiction until I've accidentally turned the entire world into one large convoluted metaphor. Feel free to call me Anna (pronounced whichever way you like), or just 'AvR'.

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