Tools and Resources
Paolo Cignoni Paolo Cignoni, Meshlab primary designer Roland 808 drum machine Erik Where it started: The 808 circa 1984 My Roland: milling machine Still programming beats in 2013

A few of the important tools Collier uses in the studio.


One of the software tools Collier uses in the process of transforming surfaces from her mind's eye to a real physical form is Meshlab, an open source, portable, and extensible system for the processing and editing of unstructured 3D triangular meshes. It is a tool whose primary designer is Paolo Cignoni at the Visual Computing Lab in Pisa, Italy and it has gained the support of the 3D-CoForm project. Collier has often said how much she appreciates this software and its founders.


A key technologies behind Collier's art is CNC which stands for "computer numeric control." This is a system of controlling a machine tool using code to direct its motion.

CNC is an industrial technology, but it has a suprising and little known connection to music.

One of Collier's CNC mills is a Roland MDX-540 but long before Roland ever made a milling machine, in the 1980s they invented the "beat-box," with the incredible Roland 808 drum machine. The concept behind the 808 "Rhythm Composer" was to quantize drum sounds and allow a user to program their own patterns. This idea revolutionized music leading to disco, hip-hop, electronic dance music and, indeed, much of all new music today.

Once Roland had figured out how to quantize sound, they thought they could also quantize visual content and they made a plotter. From there, it just required them to add a third dimension to create a milling machine that could reproduce patterns from code.