Materialize: words about the exhibition.

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

I was recently asked to be the juror of and featured artist in an exhibition titled Materialize, currently on view at the Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries on the campus of Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. The exhibition presents objects and installations utilizing a spectrum of digital fabrication tools in their making. The jury process has not only introduced me to the work of a number of compelling artists but also (thankfully) provided a moment of reflection from which this brief text emerged. It is intended as a snapshot of an emerging field, quickly coming into focus. I hope to soon post Images of the exhibition and highlight a few of the individuals participating in it.

Click on the image below to open the text as a PDF. 

Materialize runs through December 7th.  The exhibition will also be traveling to Purdue University Galleries (Fountain Gallery, Lafayette) from January 13 through February 21, 2015.

Media-n: 3D Printing Panel and Roundtable Discussion

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

Back in March of 2014 I was fortunate to have been selected to participate in a 3D Printing Panel organized by Tom Burtonwood and Rachel Clarke. The event was part of the College Art Association's New Media Caucus and took place during the 2014 CAA Conference in Chicago. 

An article detailing the event has just published in the journal Media-N. It is a good primer on the technology of 3D printing, some of it's current and future challenges, and a bit of insight into how artists will engage this technology.

Check out the article here, or the pdf version here

It was a great pleasure to meet all the other panelists, whose talks are summarized here:

Morehshin Allahyari

Jason J. Ferguson

Taylor Hokanson

Sophie Kahn

Tom Lauerman

Luis Navarro

Jamie Obermeier

Barbara Rauch

Kristin Stransky

David Van Ness


Open Source Shout Out (& my first D.I.Y. 3D printer)

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

From May until August, 2014, I made, unmade, and remade my first home-built 3D printer. It's based on the open-source RepRap project, derived specifically from the popular "Prusa i3" plan. Ultimately though, I redesigned nearly all the parts, even if much of my redesigning was subtle (rounding a blocky shape for example). The whole experience has been tremendously rewarding, despite the almost absurd amount of time committed. 

I suspect I'll build more. And I will post my design files someplace for others to re-use them or iterate them further if they choose. I had hoped one printer would be enough to satisfy my curiosity, but the project mostly ignited a desire to build many variations: a printer for clay objects, a printer for large objects, a printer for detailed objects, and on and on. 

Maybe more exciting than building the thing though, was becoming more familiar with the wonderfully deep resources and enthusiasm to be found within the expanding constellation which is the Open Source Hardware community. There is much more I could write on that subject, but maybe I'll just mention that I thoroughly enjoyed trying to comprehend the remarkable work of open source pioneers like Adrian Bowyer, Massimo Banzi, Casey Reas & Ben Fry, Limor Fried, Marcin Jakubowski, and many more. Within the specific context of 3D printers I've been fascinated by the huge range of designs proposed, built, iterated, and shared by people like Richard Horne, Nicholas SewardJonathan KeepJoseph Prusa, and Alessandro Ranellucci. I know none of these people personally, but I am inspired by the remarkable things they have created. I'm even more affected by their commitment to Open Source as an ethos, exemplified by this excerpt from the Open Source Hardware Manifesto:

Open source is like playing with cards on the table. The game is clear, transparent.
The open source key benefit is not that the project is free.
The key advantage of open source is you can see the design, the process, the code and probably you (or someone for you) can modify it:
You can see how it works. You can take it apart. You can fix it. You can improve it.
Most people do none of these things, but all benefit from this transparency.

Similarly, I enjoyed reading about the conceptual and philosophical underpinnings of the RepRap project as outlined by Adrian Bowyer's essay "Wealth Without Money", as it is loaded with insights along these lines:

The self-copying rapid-prototyping machine will allow people to manufacture for themselves many of the things they want, including the machine that does the manufacturing. It is the first technology that we can have that will simultaneously make people more wealthy whilst reducing the need for industrial production.

Closer to home, many many thanks to Sidney Church and David St. John of Penn State School of Visual Arts and Engineering respectively. Both Sidney and David helped me feel capable of building a complicated machine despite a deep lack of experience with electronics, micro-controllers, etc. 

At present, I'm attempting to apply all of these ideas to a new course I'm teaching titled: "D.I.Y. Digital Fabrication". The goal of the course is to empower artists, designers, and craftspeople to construct custom, low-cost, open-source Digital Fabrication tools which can perform at a very high level despite being home-made and composed of generic bits and pieces. At the same time, it is my hope that our group will consider all the moral, economic, and cultural implications of these technologies while considering how a D.I.Y. approach fits within the larger picture. Oh, and likely we'll make some Art too, because it is an Art class of course.

It is a fascinating time to be getting involved in this technology as it shifts from institutions and corporations to individuals. Is this the 3rd Industrial Revolution? Maybe so. A lot of hype? Perhaps. At any rate, it all reminds me of the feeling of turning on a personal computer in the 1980's. Confronting a pretty basic and awkward technology with astonishing, revolutionary potential.

Thank You Note to Anonymous Bloggers

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

For the last five or six years I've been collaborating with Fabio J. Fernández on a series of of objects titled Sculptures in Love with Architecture. Our project began as a simple work exchange. I think I made an object based on one of Fabio's drawings to trade with him, or vice-versa. Somehow that project has grown in to a body of work that includes more than two hundred objects and as many drawings. 

The objects in the series are very small in size but I'd argue they are large in scale. Their proportions relate to the architectural sources that have inspired them. They are model-like even if they aren't models. Models are plans for larger structures. Despite being able to fit in the palm of your hand, these objects are unabashedly full size.

As an artist you get used to trying to compete for attention, make a splash, stake a claim to a space. So when you scale your work way, way down you also prepare yourself to have that work ignored. To my surprise this body of work has not been ignored. 

Perhaps as a function of their size, or their simple and specific geometry, they have become internet-friendly. As a result of the images of these small objects pinging around in the ether, Fabio and I have been introduced to a number of interesting art & design enthusiasts and collectors from really far flung places. It means a lot to us, and has helped motivate us to keep this project moving forward during times when its hard to carve out the time and space required to communicate and collaborate. 

So, in no particular order, thank you to Sight UnseenbooooooomArthound, of paper and things, unruly, and various other tumblrs assembled by people I've never met. In many cases these mentions are simply an image or a sentence. Regardless, it is much appreciated. 

Review: "Under The Table" @ Fort Worth Contemporary Arts

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

Many Thanks to Colette Copeland and Ceramics Art & Perception magazine for this intelligent review of "Under the Table". Thanks again to Margaret Meehan, who curated the exhibition. It was a pleasure to be included with many artists I admire including Kristen Morgin, Kate Gilmore, Tom Müller, Akio Takamori, Matthew McConnell, Jeffry Mitchell, and my longtime collaborator Fabio Fernández. 

Exhibition: "Urban Environments" @ Grizzly Grizzly, Philadelphia

Added on by Tom Lauerman.

Urban Environments: Colin Keefe, Fabio Fernández, Tom Lauerman
Curated by Jacque Liu
Exhibition Dates: September 6–28, 2013
Opening Reception: First Friday, September 6th, 6–10PM
Grizzly Grizzly, 319 North 11th Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA
Hours: Saturday and Sundays, 2-6PM

This September, Grizzly Grizzly is pleased to present ‘Urban Environments’, featuring the work of Philadelphia based artist Colin Keefe and the collaborative work of Fabio Fernández and Tom Lauerman.  The exhibition, consisting of drawings and sculpture, explores systems of architecture, the built environment, and abstraction. 
Colin Keefe will exhibit meticulously crafted drawings of fictitious environments that examine urban terrain through organic models.  Using ink on paper, Keefe begins with design principles gathered from diverse sources such as the reproductive processes of plants, the propulsion methods of microorganisms and architectural theory. Keefe states “the resulting images depict cities grown organically, without an “urban planner” as protagonist, based on environmental conditions.” 
Fabio J. Fernández and Tom Lauerman will present a collaborative body of work, Sculptures in Love with Architecture (SiLwA).  The works in this exhibition explore architecture from the perspective of two artists interested in “the reductive forms of early modernist constructions.”  They employ an array of techniques ranging from inked lines drawn on a moving train to laser cut wooden parts assembled atop folded paper geometry.  The artists state that “the works illustrate the development of ideas through conversation, repetition, experimentation and practice.”