Rarely does science and art ever see eye to eye – however, this month’s digital gallery opening is a unique exception. Virtually Solid: Digital Fabrication as Sculpture premiered January 6 at the Wilson Gallery, and will remain free and open to the public until January 28. The gallery focuses on artistic collision of art and engineering, with one of the world’s most innovative emerging technologies: 3D Printers.
“3D printing is used in a variety of areas,” said Julia Dearriba-Montgomery, a contributing artist to the gallery and art professor of FSCJ. “But for the arts, we are interested in exploring how this technology can be implemented in a way that can enhance traditional processes and provide new ways of object making.”
3D printing is the process of synthesizing a 3-dimensional object. For the past decade, 3D printing has been trending amongst the news, even President Barack Obama at his 2013 State of the Union address said that 3-D printing “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost anything.” 3D printing had humble beginnings in the 1980s, but today is a very real emerging technology full of possibilities. FSCJ just recently acquired 5 new 3D printing machines for the Art and Digital Media departments.
3D printing is used for prosthetics devices, dental devices such as crowns and perhaps in the distant future, scientists will be able to print out organs for transplant patients. Like most technologies, with every given year, 3D printing improves.
But with a technology so crucial to the scientific world, what could it possibly offer for art? According to Dearriba-Montgomery, it’s used in many different ways.
“We see 3D printing in many fine arts pieces in galleries or utilized in environmental sculptures,” she said. “3D printing is also used in stop motion animation by companies like Laika Studios, who made feature films such as ‘Paranorman’ and ‘Box Trolls.’ Although it is a relatively new medium (when compared to traditional art forms such as painting and pottery), it can be utilized in many different art making techniques.”
Dearriba-Montgomery has personally worked with FSCJ’s 3D printers since 2008. For the gallery, she contributed a series of pieces entitled “Efflorescence,” flower-like sculptures built from repeated patterns.
“For me, the ability to create objects from virtual forms provides that ‘human touch’ that is missing in a fully virtual space,” Dearriba-Montgomery said. “It allows me to see and hold something that I was only able to understand on a 2D surface (we may have 3D tools on the computer, but they are still fixed on a 2D screen).
The Digital Fabrication Gallery also features from artists such as Dr. George Hart, who incorporated mathematics into sculptures, and Tareq Mirza, who created humanoid type figures. Professor Cottrell created a 3D print, and then applied video projection mapping, implementing movement and light.
“There is a wide variety of works from some amazing artists,” Dearriba-Montgomery said. “We are very excited in seeing this 3D Printing used at FSCJ, and working with other programs in finding ways we can implement this technology in education.”