now that studio.FAB‘s reached a pretty stable (?) point, I’ve decided to take a break from the development + engineering for a while and refocus back into art-making. well…there’s actually plenty of technical stuff studio.FAB needs to do (CNC! plotter! cutter!) but a good portion of that development is on hold while I wait for some new materials (Open Rail/MakerSlide) to arrive – so it seems like a fairly good time to start thinking about how this can be used in service of art-making.
because I’ve always thought of studio.FAB as a platform for art-making, I designed it to be much more hands-on and experimental than conventional digital fabrication systems. this means it’s much more available to play with, hack, and modify in ways that produce unexpected + new objects – rather than machines that focus on reproducing a precision translation between the input digital file and the output physical object. I guess in a Greenberg/Manovich/modernist sense, it’s much available to reveal (exploit? flirt with?) the properties of digital fabrication as an art medium instead of trying to faithfully [re]produce multiple precision widgets for purely practical purposes. well there’s that, plus I’m not really a “good engineer,” so even though I designed it to the best of my knowledge, there’s bound to be inherent structural idiosyncrasies that provide a more (ahem) poetic dimension to the work produced.
for me, I think it might make sense to delineate between the kind of digital fabrication that rigidly focuses on engineered precision (aka: trying to achieve as accurate reproduction as possible through hyper-calibration and fine-tuning) and the kind of object-making that prioritizes the aesthetic dimension and studio process. it’s not that one is somehow “better” or more desirable than the other – it’s just two different ways of approaching the fabrication process. I tend to sit in the middle of the spectrum. for me, sometimes it’s worth spending a few hours attempting to get a better print quality – and sometimes I’ll just let the molten ABS act a bit slubby just because that’s what the art work is asking for.* because of this, I’m thinking of referring to the more aesthetic process as “3D printmaking.” printmaking is an artists’ process, so it seems clear to make the claim that “3D printmaking” is somehow different than “3D printing.” while someone certainly could do 3D printing of “art objects” – look, there are like…a bazillion 3D printed frogs, Daleks, Yoda heads, and all sorts of “cool looking” parametric mathematically-generative printable models – I think what I’m suggesting is something….else. something other, something unexpected, something not-yet-defined…something I’m not even sure what it looks like. whatever it is, I think there’s an argument somewhere about recognizing the differences between the technical process and the aesthetic process; “3D printmaking” just seems to be one possible direction.
* however, this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop calibrating and making whatever adjustments + upgrades in order to improve the print/milling/etc. quality. this definitely isn’t an argument for “whoo-hoo, we can cut corners and if it’s sloppy we can fix it in post.” it’s more to advocate for and emphasize the different concerns that happen in a create process versus a technical process.
(…plus, it’s a way to help prevent me from obsessing over “perfection.”)