On The Verge of an Artistic Revolution: Combining Creative Vision and Cutting-Edge 3D Printing Technology
Two weeks ago Keith Brown, Professor of Sculpture and Digital Technologies/Director of Art and Computing Technologies at the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art & Design (MIRIAD), Manchester Metropolitan University delivered a notably insightful talk at the TCT Show + Personalize event in Birmingham, UK.
The premise of Keith’s talk was that Fine Artists have been very slow to realise the possible applications for 3D printing, but that’s all about to change. As a true innovator in the field, Keith has been predicting a sudden and massive take-up of 3D printing in Fine Arts for over a decade. Keith acknowledged though that mastering CAD (computer aided design software) often involves a steep learning curve and, unless the artist has compelling reason to use 3D printing, learning how to design in CAD software (in order to produce a 3D file that is 3D printable) can be very off-putting and is likely the cause of their slower-than-anticipated adoption of the technology.
However, that sudden, massive uptake finally might be upon us. Now, thanks to inexpensive 3D scanners, apps, 3D cameras and new capabilities of commonly-used software like Photoshop CC, inputting to a 3D printer couldn’t be easier. “Fine artists just don’t know that yet, but when they do, and that’s imminent,” Keith said, “I think I might live long enough to see it happen.”
Keith was one of the earliest adopters of SDL (Selective Deposition Lamination) paper-based 3D printing technology. He used the Mcor Matrix monochrome (one colour) 3D printer to create elegant and organic sculptures, experimenting with a variety of forms, textures and finishes, including ordinary boot polish, to achieve his vision.
“Journey to the Centre” created by Keith Brown, MIRIAD, on an Mcor Matrix paper 3D printer and finished with boot polish.
A representation of several sculptures created by Keith Brown, MIRIAD, on an Mcor Matrix paper 3D printer.
Captivated by the possibilities of full, True Colour paper-based 3D printing with the introduction of the Mcor IRIS two years ago, Keith set about pushing the boundaries of his previous work to incorporate colour into his designs. Once again, his vision was realised in the stunning piece he presented during his presentation.
Sculpture created by Keith Brown, MIRIAD, in True Colour on an Mcor IRIS paper 3D printer.
“It was exciting to see my piece. I believed it would be tricky, but,” he said, “I don’t do easy.”
Keith added, “The colour is excellent, much better than I expected. It is going straight into an exhibition called ‘Material Matters,’ curated by my university’s special collection unit housed in our main library. Then next to a special event to launch our new £1m Digital Innovation Center, which brings the creative industries and academia into closer proximity to promote knowledge exchange. From there, it’s onto the Manchester Science Museum and off to Minneapolis College of Art’s Gallery for a digital fabrication show, January-March 2015. I’ve been invited to speak at several venues in the UK and US in coming months, so I’ll continue to spread the word.”