The programmer of the Sign-Generator also brought us “Hector” the portable Spray-paint Output Device for laptop computers.

It was created in close collaboration with engineer Uli Franke for Jürg Lehni’s diploma project at écal (école cantonale d’art de Lausanne) in 2002.

Hektor’s light and fragile installation consists only of two motors, toothed belts and a can holder that handles regular spray cans. The can is moved along drawing paths just as the human hand or old plotters would. During operation, the mechanism sometimes trembles and wobbles, and the paint often drips. The contrasts between these low-tech aspects and the high-tech touch of the construction hold ambiguous and poetic qualities and make Hektor enjoyable to watch in action.

The aim was to make a statement about design by providing a new tool to other designers and artists to experiment with, a tool with an inherently particular and distinctive aesthetic.

Hektor’s software is based on Scriptographer, a scripting plugin for Adobe Illustrator™ which was created by Jürg Lehni and made freely available out of similar motivations: Scriptographer gives the user the possibility to extend Illustrator’s functionality by the use of the JavaScript language. It puts the tool back into the hand of the user and confronts a closed product with the open source philosophy.

Both Hektor and Scriptographer are statements about today’s desktop publishing design chain with all its standards and softwares, which have a strong influence on the aesthetics of the products. They are a call to the designers to not just accept the limitations and predefined ways of working of current software and make the reappropriation of their tools and the invention of new ones a part of their daily work flow.

In this frame of mind, Hektor was used for many projects in different contexts over the past years, often in collaboration with other designers and artists. Making the technology available to others made Hektor a very lively project. (hector.ch)

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