For the Timelab residency I was interested in making an object that employed a process contemporaneous of our period in time: the 3D printer. I wanted to explore how producing an object through this machine is still in a sense hand made. It is sculpted through my manipulation of a program with the touch track pad/keyboard/mouse. I communicate with this program through my fingers. My digits commune with the digital through a precise sequence of touches.
Much of my practice has a craft element, in that the process of making – interacting with chosen materials through a predetermined process of intervention – forms part of the conceptual underpinning of the work. I wanted to consider how is this affected in both conceptual and tactile senses when I make an object through a 3D printer. I am not manipulating the material (which in this case is recycled plastic) with my hands. Instead, with my hands, I communicate with a predetermined program how I want this object to look and feel and occupy this world. I have made contact with the digital realm how it is to manifest something in this real world. My digits manipulate the digital.
The question of what to make led me to consider what was the most basic thing that people transformed into something else.
Whittling is the age-old practice of handcrafting a simple wooden stick into another shape, and is considered one of the earliest forms of human creativity. Nowadays it is regarded as a hobby with meditative qualities, providing a feeling of oneness with man and his environment.
While the actual practice of whittling may now be uncommon, its metaphor prevails in the English language: to whittle something down means to reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps. The 3D printer does the reverse. Instead of whittling down it whittles up, conjuring an object through a gradual series of layers.
For this work each of the sticks was gathered from the open-source Sketch-up 3D warehouse, a surprisingly concrete designation for an impartial memory that potentially exists both nowhere and everywhere simultaneously. People the world over created these digital representations of pieces of wood and then uploaded them to share. This warehouse is a repository for everyone’s digital, three-dimensional representations of things that may or may not exist in our ‘real-world’, as well as other objects and entities built from imagination. It is also an impartial memory, allowing every creation to exist no matter how unsophisticated or professional it may appear.
CC attribution 2.0 Belgium