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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sculptors Using Rapid Prototyping Technology

There's an interesting story in tomorrow morning's New York Times about artists' use of computer controlled milling machines to reproduce and/or make sculpture. (Link available free to registered users for the next few days.)

For anyone who speaks to a general audience about contemporary art, it's another piece of information to work into your set of talking points on the artist's role as creator and the original vs. the reproduction.

The article reminded me of some works in the Whitney's BitStreams exhibition back in 2001. The exhibition's curator had included a couple funky Styrofoam sculptures in the show that were made with this equipment. In a walkthrough of the show that he led, he presented these works as a new form of art, saying that the art existed in the data set containing the instructions used by the machine to carve the final object. It struck me at the time that the pieces were simply Gehryesque forms created using a process of  industrial fabrication that was common in industry but hadn't yet been accepted widely in the arts. They weren't a new form of art, but rather a traditional form making use of new processes and tools for fabrication.

It turns out that this is how the technology is being embraced as it becomes more accessible. The article includes of photo of Kiki Smith detailing a piece that she has created using the technology.



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