This means something. This is important.

‘I can’t describe it, what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking, this means something! This is important’ are the words of Roy Neary played by the actor Richard Dreyfuss in the 1977 science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the film Neary is depicted as an adult who never really grew up, a character that gradually becomes obsessed about an image in his mind – followed by the ensuing need to externalise his vision. More specifically this sweeping analysis of the film refers to the the bit that I am interested in.

Form Follows Fiction

Although the actions of Roy Neary in the ‘mash potato scene’ are largely induced by his previous alien encounter in the film, his child like conduct and obsessive behaviour provide the first segue in to what appears to becoming a series of art works (Stretch out with your feelings & Ray Kinsella) that embrace the theme of Form Follows Fiction. Here the obsessive and compulsive nature (and sometimes child like) provide a parallel with the artist and designer, individuals that can embody a similar preoccupied disposition – often attributed to the single minded pursuit. Other ‘artistic’ segue include; technologically enabled ‘remakes’ and a continuing fascination with objects that initiate oscillations between fiction and reality.

The Making:

Devils Mountain, Google Earth View
Google Earth View of Devils Tower, Wyoming, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was originally interested in developing a series of drawings for this project by using Google Earth as my point of reference and vantage point. The outcome would be to continuously produce multiple drawn copies of Devils Tower. The continuous re-drawing of the tower would eventually result in the image becoming fixed in my mind – a subtle nod to the plight of Roy Neary. I would therefore be able to recall and draw its image at will, continuously recreating Devil’s Tower in multiple form. The idea would be to explore today’s situation where the body is no longer the dominant measure of space. Instead it is digital technology that dictates how we see and experience the world – affording a new mediated measuring stick. I may still undertake this approach although I would need to carry over some further facet of the Google Earth program – in order for the work to mean something, something important.

3D render for Devils Tower, Wyoming USA
Terrainator render of Devils Tower, Wyoming
3D render for Devils Tower, Wyoming USA
Terrainator render of Devils Tower, Wyoming

 

Anyway, some months after this initial thought I was speaking with a friend who mentioned that he was thinking about 3D printing a trek that he had recently walked in the USA. To cut a long story a bit shorter I researched the 3D capture and print possibilities for landscapes and found an online company called Terrainator. The company use an algorithm to extract the topographical data from Google Earth and extrude this information to create a three dimensional file. The generated 3D data is exportable to the print on demand company Shapeways who specialise in 3D printing. Alternatively you can purchase the 3D file and print it yourself – much cheaper. Above are two views of the topographical render created by Terrainator for the national monument Devils Tower in Wyoming, United States.

The 3D image file that was produced by Terrainator wasn’t quite what I was expecting. This was mainly due to the fact that the top of the tower wasn’t flat – like it is in the Google Earth image or in reality, and more importantly like it is in the film!

Wire Mesh for Devils Tower
Wire Mesh for Devils Tower
3D file of Devils Tower
3D surface render of Devils Tower
3D build file for Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D build file for Devils Tower

Once in possession of the 3D file (and to initiate the Form Follows Fiction theme) it seemed only logical that the physical rendering of the data should remain true to my filmic reference, that being mash potato. Whilst I say mash potato I really mean the instant mash potato brand Smash. Smash / mash potato is not one of the more common material’s used in the 3D printing world and I therefore had to access a more novel approach to printing. Luckily two of my colleagues at the CFPR Peter Walters and David Huson had had some previous experience printing with Smash and designing bespoke extrusion systems for the process.

Extrusion System and Printing Material

Interestingly the printing process allowed me to recover the flat summit of Devils Tower, the bit that had been lost in the 3D generation of the file. This achievement was not so much an insightful bit of software manipulation or a crafted adjustment to the hardware. Instead it was accomplished by the timely pressing of the pause button, about a minute from the end of the print. The printing of the mash potato tower also included a fixing agent in the Smash and water mix. This helped the structure retain its shape whilst drying. The previous 100% Smash and water mix had resulted in the structure slumping after an hour or so. The resulting prints conjured visions of printed objects by the Biltong creature in Philip K Dick’s 1955 dystopian novel ‘Pay for the Printer‘. In the novel the Biltong is an alien that serves humankind by duplicating everyday objects but over time the Biltong’s have become exhausted, to the point of extinction – and are no longer able to produce accurate copies. The quality of these inferior objects degrade each time they are replicated to the point where nothing has any longevity, buildings are collapsing in on themselves and newspapers become nothing more than a mishmash of meaningless words. The loss of function is described as ‘puddinged’, an adjective articulated in the novel where several copies later a Swiss watch has become nothing more than a piece of misshapen metal. Mmmm ‘puddinged’.

That said the new addition of the binding agent still has a few structural integrity problems but it was good enough to produce a 3D print that could be photographically recorded for the Annual Miniature print show at the Arnolfini. Unlike the scale of the 3D printed Devils Tower artwork Beautiful Minds (2017) by the artist Anya Gallaccio my 3D printed mash potato version has an altitude of 14cm and is now located in my desk draw waiting for further developments of the idea.

3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
3D Printing of Devils Tower in Mash Potato
This means something. This is important. (2016)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements:

Big thanks to Peter Walters and Dave Huson for allowing me to print on their machine and with their assistance.

 

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Do Androids dream of print?

Fiery the Angels Fell 3
John Ford, Fiery the Angels Fell, 2015 (Screen Print)

This year was the first year CFPR Editions (officially) awarded a UWE (University of the West of England) graduate print prize. I had been thinking about involving more graduates within the editions practice after writing an article on MiAL (Made in Arts London) and their promotion of UAL graduate artwork at Art Fairs. To coincide with these thoughts I have also (more recently) become part of the lecturing team on the MA Printmaking at UWE – so collectively it would appear that the print moons were aligned for such a prize to happen. Previous UWE (unofficial prize winning) graduates have included Carolyn Bunt (MA Printmaking) and Arthur Buxton (BA Illustration). The CFPR Editions prize offers a graduate the opportunity to be represented by CFPR Editions at Art Fairs and associated exhibitions. The award goes to the graduate who’s practice exhibits a contemporary approach to printmaking and engages with a technological theme that underpins the curatorial premise that I put in place for CFPR Editions. The 2015 CFPR Editions Prize was won by UWE MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking graduate John Ford.

https://twitter.com/CFPR_EDITIONS/status/609035639141593088

Ford’s practice embraces traditional printmaking and photography with three dimensional and computer aided elements.  His work uses simple materials to build models based on sets from dystopian films such as Lars Von Trier’s Element of Crime and (in this instance) Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.  Ford’s capture method involves taking photographs of his models and re-photographing them on a laptop screen, distorting the imagery and creating distance between the viewer and subject.  Through these processes the work explores themes around reality, illusion and distortion and contemplate a world seen increasingly through television and computer screens.

The work combines hand produced elements with technologically derived imagery, which is important to Ford’s use of different processes and his conceptual approach. The film Blade Runner deals with many of the themes that Ford is interested in, such as questioning the moral implications of advanced technology. The title for the print, Fiery the Angels Fell, is a distortion of a poem by William Blake, where the original line reads: ‘fiery the angels rise’, and is spoken by one of the replicants in the film.  The replicants challenge what it is to be human and can only be identified as such through the Voight-Kampff test.  Ford explains that he wanted to re-create some of the ambiguity and atmosphere of uncertainty present in Blade Runner by playing with the perception of scale in the final print.

The model for the print was made using balsa wood and tissue paper and was lit from inside the structure.  The image is screen printed to capture some of the moire effects caused by re-photographing the photograph of the model from the laptop screen.  The screen printed image allowed Ford to methodically mix his own colours based upon the degraded colours of an old CRT screen and achieve a specific muted aged technological effect that we might associate with surveillance.

Will be adding John to The CFPR Editions site soon and if you are heading to the Multiplied Art Fair (Christies, London) this year then you will get to see the real thing.

Master’s of the Printverse

Ben Rowe, Batteries not included, MDF
Ben Rowe, Batteries not included, MDF Sculpture
ben
Artist Ben Rowe

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

On numerous occasions I have witnessed academics, artists, commentators and students make links between new print technologies and Science Fiction. Whether or not this is a light hearted connection it is undoubtedly a reoccurring phenomenon for example; Sci Fi and Print from Printeresting, Sci Fi inspired Workshops at MIT, RISD & Brown and Workshop 4 at VCU Qatar. I have tentatively explored similar themes in my own work but have always wanted to broaden this connection beyond my own thinking / making. More recently these sentiments have begun to take shape as part of a CFPR Editions collaborative print studio production, after a few conversation with Sci-Fi inspired artist Ben Rowe . I am therefore pleased to say that we have undertaken a collaborative project with a view to turning one of Rowe’s remarkably detailed sculptures into a limited print edition.

Ben Rowe describes the process behind his work, in part, as a ‘morphing of the digital world into a physical object,’ the intrigue and interest in the collaboration lies in the reimagining of the reversal of that process. In this instance the object is digitally captured before being rendered back into the physical as an analogue print edition. After visiting Ben in his Spike Island studio (studio 43) and discussing ideas in the following weeks we decided that the sculpture titled Batteries Not Included would be the first work to be editioned as a relief print.

In this instance the print project is the epitome of a collaborative studio endeavor when considering all of the contributors.

Artist: Ben Rowe
Project Initiator: Paul Laidler
Photographic Capture: Andrew Super
Digital File Preperation: Richard Falle
Flexo Plate Production: John McNaught
Relief Printing: Andrew Super

CFPR Editions' Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe's sculpture
CFPR Editions’ Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe’s sculpture
CFPR Editions' Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe's sculpture
CFPR Editions’ Paul Laidler & Andrew Super, capture Ben Rowe’s sculpture
ben3
Andrew Super embossing Ben Rowe Print
ben2
Flexo plate
Ben Rowe, Batteries Not Included, 2014, Relief Print
Ben Rowe, Batteries Not Included, 2014, Relief Print

Recent interview by Coats & Scarry on Rowe’s work here

 

Rebel Relief

Sam Burford, Star Wars Relief, 2011
Sam Burford, Star Wars Relief, 2011

 

Sam Burford‘s Star Wars Relief is a timelapse photograph taken from the film Star Wars IV. Burford uses a bespoke capture device to record the film footage that is then rendered as a series of extended (and abstract) film stills (see example here). In this instance the image has been transformed into a surface relief made from silicon – a material previously used in film production to create sets and props. The relief work subsequently has allusions to pre-digital cinematic model making methods and aesthetic reference to the surface structure of the Empires Imperial Starships and Space Station.

Link below should get you in the mood for Sam’s sculpture.

https://soundcloud.com/quintooos/starwars-the-imperial-march

Stretch out with your feelings

Stretch out wit your feelings
Paul Laidler, Stretch out with your feelings, 2010

EDITION INFO

MEDIUM: Laser Engraving
SUBSTRATE: Black Velvet Somerset 250gsm
SUBSTRATE DIMENSIONS: Width 38cm x Height 57cm
IMAGE DIMENSIONS: Width 12cm x Height 12cm

The orb image depicted in the photograph to the left has been burnt with a laser into the surface of a black heavy weight cotton based paper. The laser engraved orb image in the paper is a ‘Jedi training remote’ from the film Star Wars. In this instance the training remote image is only visible because of the resulting topography that is burnt (by the laser) into the depth of the paper. Therefore the orb image is described by angle, light and the papers darker fibers that sit beneath the (slightly lighter black) paper surface.

Form follows Fiction:

Upon our first encounter with the ‘Jedi training remote’ (in the film) we find Skywalker struggling to focus his Jedi abilities during the laser training exercise. There after it is decided that Skywalker should be blinded allowing the force to guide his actions instead of his eyesight or to ‘let go of his conscious self’. Now blinded by ‘the blast shield’ Luke sees nothing except darkness (black paper) by using the force Luke is able to render the objects image in his mind (the image on the black paper). Although in his minds eye the object is devoid of physicality yet Skywalker has the ability to sense the training remotes presence in a space (the laser cut depth within the flat space of the paper). The realisation that the Jedi training remote is essentially both image and object creates a sense of mystery around the works visual presence – perhaps drawing further parallels with the order of the Jedi Knight!
Stretch out with your feelings is part of a continuing fascination with oscillations between image and object and fact and fiction. Subsequently I have an interest in film props and replicas where our associations with these objects are generally through their ‘on screen’ image presence. In this context film props are essentially objects that are preceded by their image, they are able to traverse fiction and reality when we consider that fact that they are ‘real fictional’ objects.


Stretch out with your feelings (2010) was conceived around the idea of creating a ‘real fiction’ where a physical object (an artwork) would be literally formed by some aspect of its fictional reference. In this instance the laser technology was used to initiate the traversing between fiction and reality. Here laser cutting technology refers to both the Jedi remotes fictional function (shooting lasers at Skywalker) and the actual technological process that renders the Jedi training remote visible in Stretch out with your feelings. The self-referential play around the idea of creating real fictions also has a resonance with the rapid advancement in science and computing industries. What was once thought to be only possible in science fiction is now becoming ‘science faction’.

Piety of the Polychromer

Sacred-Made

The Sacred Made Real Exhibition, The National Gallery London, 2009

So what’s Polychrome?

Craftsmanship, realism, hybridity, transcription and people loving what you’ve made – eh yes please. That said  the realistic quality of the polychrome sculpture and their visual presence in the 17th Century raised concerns within certain religious establishments. These concerns were observed through the sculptures relationship to the real and the possibility that the faithful might worship the sculpture itself, not what it represented. The power of making hey!

See the making by the John Paul Getty Museum here. It’s pretty cool.