Welcome to the 3D Revolution – Our Dec 2013 Issue
3D print technology is revolutionising the way in which we create and design items, and the field of art and design has not remained untouched. Classic Feel’s Tamaryn Greer spoke to various 3D artists and designers about how this new technology is being used to create art, and how these works fit into the traditional view of art.
‘First of all,’ says Professor Keith Brown, Professor of Sculpture and Digital Technologies at the Manchester Metropolitan University, ‘I am a sculptor, who through my research and practice engage directly with 3D computer modelling for the purpose of exploring the virtual environment to discover new sculptural forms not possible to envisage using analogue methods.’ Brown, who creates incredible flowing wave-like forms, such as Dive and Sweep, has been using the computer as a design tool since 1981, where he had access to the Quantel Paintbox (one of only three in the UK). Although the technology back then is incomparable to what we have access to in our homes today, Brown reveals that it ‘gave insights into the potential application of computer graphics as a sophisticated design tool.’ ‘By the early nineties,’ Brown explains, ‘my work became completely virtual and I ceased making real objects. My main output at this time took the form of 3D computer generated animation, video and installation.’ As technology developed, it led to Brown’s first 3D print in 1997, an object called ‘Continuity of Form’ which was printed using Durafoam.
With regards to the question of 3D printing as art, Brown states that, ‘for me the art occurs in the modelling process, where one’s senses are applied intuitively, along with emotion and intellectual accompaniment.’ ‘It’s not so much the qualities of the process or materials themselves but rather what one does with them,’ he adds. ‘As a professional practitioner of some 45 years I have worked with a wide range of sculptural processes, materials and techniques, from miniature to monumental. In all of these, including 3D print, it is my belief that the ‘art’ (whatever that might be) transcends the ‘medium’. However, in many instances one must acknowledge (in the Marshall McLuhan sense) that the medium is the message. In facilitating the creation of objects never before possible, this is certainly the case with 3D printing, whatever is made with it; the good the bad and the mediocre. For me it’s not so much giving up traditional craft skills as it is embracing the possibilities made available through this amazing new computing technology.’
Jonathan Keep, creator of organically inspired ceramic prints and ceramic printers, began using computers and code in his work in 1999, and worked on using computer code to mimic the patterns, structures and systems underlying the natural world. ‘Ultimately, it is this relationship between art and nature and how computers can be used to explore this relationship that got me started,’ explains Keep. Keep uses unique algorithms to generate his work, as with his Iceberg Field, ‘the algorithm has an inbuilt randomness set within natural parameters as with the formation of icebergs.’ Keep believes that 3D printing is currently going through a novelty phase, resulting in visually intriguing objects that most likely won’t stand the test of time, but once this phase has passed, Keep reckons that, ‘the 3D printer is just another tool to add to the toolset available to the artist, maker, designer.’
With regards to the reception of his work, or rather the reception of the concept of 3D printing, Keep’s experience has been slightly different to others’. In his field of ceramics ‘people are horrified that I am making things with this ‘machine’, what is happening to the creativity? I then point out the potters wheel is a ‘machine’, what is important is how the creative mind comes to use it. Both are tools at our disposal,’ whereas the reaction from the public has been ‘Confusion, on the whole the public just don’t get it and I can understand, it’s all very new. At a very basic level just the word ‘print’ is misleading. People think of a letter, script or an image. Then what do you mean by ‘3D’? Working in the ceramic world I find it easier to suggest the public think of it as computerised coil building – like how a traditional African pot is made, layer by layer.’
Dr Michaella Janse van Vuuren, a qualified electrical engineer and 3D print designer, creates incredibly intricate 3D printed sculptures, jewellery and marionettes with working parts. Janse van Vuuren sees 3D printing as the ‘opportunity to challenge myself both technically and creatively in the same design piece. A perfect marriage between my seemingly disparate talents and interests,’ she says, explaining how 3D printing allows her to draw on her background in engineering and her love for art.
Soul Agent – Our Feb 2015 Issue
Artist, designer and engineer Michaella Janse van Vuuren uses technology seemingly straight out of sci-fi to fashion creatures and objects of fantasy.
Janse van Vuuren featured as Festival Artist at the Absa KNNK in 2010, and in 2012 was named as the winner in the emerging designer category of the Absolut VISI Designer of the year, having also been identified as ‘the most interesting new talent to watch’ by renowned gallerist Rabih Hage at Design Days Dubai that same year. Her work has been shown at the London Science Museum between September 2013 and August 2014, further demonstrating the overlap between science and art (one week a gallery, the next, a science museum; and after that, the catwalk).
Janse van Vuuren has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Agents of the 3D Revolution, which was held at the University of Johannesburg’s FADA gallery in 2013. Janse van Vuuren was a key player in initiating this event, which not only showcased the work of a number of artists and designers experimenting with 3D technology – including Joshua Harker, Keith Brown, Geoff Mann, Dr Lionel T. Dean, and Nervous System, among others – but also sought to educate and inspire the broader public about the possibilities and challenges presented by the developing medium, and the machines behind it. This they set out to achieve through a series of talks, seminars and workshops held over several days.
More recently, Janse van Vuuren turned her attention to the world of fashion, collaborating with Dr Daniel Dikovsky and Tal Ely from Stratasys in Israel, and Turlif Vilbrandt from Uformia in Norway to create a collection of pieces inspired by the Garden of Eden. The collection, which included serpent shoes, a corset with a design reminiscent of stained glass, a skirt and accessories, was ‘developed in secret,’ she notes, as some of the technology used – the Objet500 Connex3 – was launched only weeks before the collection debuted on the New York 3D Printshow catwalk.
The collaboration behind this fashion collection took place across three continents over six months, with Janse van Vuuren working largely from home – a smallholding in Pretoria, one sufficiently rural to allow her to hand rear an abandoned springbuck named Una (the inspiration for her piece Rocking Springbuck). Just as the first industrial revolution led to the burgeoning of urban populations, so on-going developments in technology appear to facilitate the opposite trend: with the right tools and a good Internet connection, one person’s dark corner becomes another’s design studio or research hub. Imagine what the Swiss Family Robinson could have done with the right 3D printer and decent broadband?
Design for the future – Our May 2015 Issue
Gounder has a Bachelor Technology degree in Fashion from the Durban University of Technology and is currently working towards obtaining her Masters degree. Inspired by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s fall couture collection featuring 3D printing, Gounder has been exploring 3D printing and developing a capsule range of garments that showcases the potential of 3D printing in fashion. Gounder’s fashion range, Digital Nature, uses 3D printing to explore the concept of symmetry in nature. The silhouette and design of each piece combines the various organic and structured elements that can be found in a natural environment.
“I am really pushing the boundary of creativity, coupling innovation with good designs,” says fashion designer Kiara Gounder. “I kept that technology at the back of my mind throughout my studies,” says Gounder. “I viewed my B.Tech as my chance to explore my own curiousity about the technology and try to experiment with it.” “I want to take this topic one step further,” says Gounder when asked about the future for her label, “and possibly collaborate with a 3D printing service provider who can print flexible materials to create a range or garments. That’s how I want to move forward.”