The Edge

ArtGeekHackLabUtopia at the State Library of Queensland.

Hi. I’m Jaymis. I’m an art geek.

As soon as I heard about the plans for The Edge, I was super excited. I’ve had to subsequently explain the reasons for this excitement to other artists, and even the people running The Edge.

This is my fault, mostly. I spend my days making new stuff, and hearing from technological artists from around the planet who are not only “cutting edge”, but redefining where the edge is, exactly.

So things which seem mundane to me are magical to non-artgeeks, and things which are magical to me can be positively unreachable for “normals” (it’s a term of endearment, I promise).

So in the lead up to the launch of The Edge, I’d like to cover some of the things which form the core of what digital art is doing these days. The tools, techniques, and movements which are shaping what The Edge will do and contain.

3D Printing

The first thing which grabbed me about The Edge project was this:

Lab 4 Print and Cut is a distributed lab for building, assembling and prototyping with 3D printers, laser cutter, print on demand. [link]

For some reason it seems to take many people a while to understand the concept of 3D printing, which is weird, because everything you need to understand the concept is right there in the name.

3D. Printing.

Printing of 3D objects.

3D printed metal sculptures

Design an object on a computer. Press “Print”, wait a while, then retrieve a solid, physical copy of the object you designed in a virtual environment. Generally printed in plastic, but occasionally in sugar, and now even metal!

3D printers have been around for quite a while, and were used in the past for prototyping of industrial or commercial objects. But in the last couple of years have they become affordable to entities which aren’t multimillion dollar companies, or research organizations.

Just under a year ago, Ponoko (a 3D fabrication company based around laser cutting and assembly of flat objects) announced that 3D printers now cost the same as Laser printers did 20ish years ago. In the intervening year it doesn’t seem that an actual product has actually surfaced, but that doesn’t really matter, because there are plenty of services around which are bringing 3D printing to the people.

The top service seems to be Shapeways who were one of the first companies to offer 3D printing services to the public. They charge a flat rate (per cubic centimeter, depending on materials), shipped to anywhere on the planet.

They have a great community of creators, and even a marketplace where people can upload designs which others can purchase, printed in the material of their choice.

To me, 3D Printing is the pinnacle of Futuristic Art right now. It really is the best thing we’ve got to bring digital creations to meatspace.

Of course, 3D printing is now a product, it’s destined to become a part of everyday life, so at The Edge it’s our job to discover the next magical thing.

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