The seed of an idea

Gordon Cheung, Tulipomania, 2013, Lost wax cast 3D Print in Brass with 18 Karat Gold finish

Gordon Cheung, Tulipomania, 2013, Lost wax cast 3D Print in Brass with 18 Karat Gold finish

Collaborative Print Studio Project:

Publishers and Print Studio’s will approach artists to produce editions for a range of different reasons that may include; long standing friendships, a studio specialism, economic benefits or for esteem indicators to name but a few. CFPR Editions is situated within a University context and as an academic who seeks to publish editions with artists I am always keen to initiate projects that can be motivated beyond financial return which the publishing industry is dictated by. With this in mind I’m always on the look out for artists, practices or projects that may extend the field of print or put simply to take a few risks, go with my gut feeling and invest in the up an coming. To start this process I tend to read quite a bit to see what is going on in the world of Print and perhaps more importantly on its boarders. This will then point one in certain directions whilst being mindful of particular trends. The print project initiated with artist Gordon Cheung developed after reading about the artists work that referred to a technological informed scene with phrases such as; between the virtual and actual realities; oscillating between Utopia and Dystopia and epic techno-sublime vistas.

Gordon Cheung was born 1975 in London; he studied painting at Central St Martins College of Art and at the Royal College of Art, London from where he graduated in 2001. Cheung and many others of his generation fall into an interesting and maybe unique category where a new generation of artists have grown up amid the digital revolution and subsequently inspired by the new media of our age. One might speculate that science fiction films such as Star Wars, 2001 and Blade Runner have helped to forge a common imagination, as well as sparking a willingness to think and create in technological terms. More importantly this generation has witnessed the transition between analogue and digital, enabling a understanding of the materiality and tangibility of technology compared with the all digital and immaterial that prevailed at the start of the digital era.

Cheung’s art has been said to look to the future, whilst remaining firmly rooted in the past. The project undertaken at the CFPR provides a historical reflection of contemporary culture through the exploration of the Dutch Golden Age, a period of extraordinary wealth and power in 16th- and 17th- century Holland. The title of the work 
‘Tulipmania’ was a notorious episode in 17th-century Dutch history, in which the trading of tulip bulbs became so extreme that the price of one flower would sell for ten times the annual wage of a skilled worker. ‘Tulipmania’ was the world’s first recorded major financial crash an occurrence that the artist has drawn upon for this work, highlighting that economic bubbles are not a modern-day phenomenon.

The tulip bulb for the series refers to the Rothschild bulb that was selected by the artist whilst visiting Amsterdam in 2013. The artist explains that the bulb is named after one of the most powerful banking family dynasties in history and therefore a principle player in spreading Capitalism globally.

Overview of the Tulipomanaia Project:

In 2013 CFPR Editions completed the first 3D printed bulb series for the artist Gordon Cheung. By using an Identica dental scanner (with assistance from Robert Keogh at 3dScan Alliance in Bristol) we were able to record the three dimensional surface of a tulip bulb. The capture data was then used to create five separate files as part of a devolutionary print series.

3D Scanning of Tulip Bulb

3D Scanning of Tulip Bulb

In the photographic recording above you can see the five devolutionary stages of the bulb that begins with the original high resolution 3D recording on the left (constructed of 381,774 triangles) toward the simplification or decimation of the object as a pyramid structure on the right. The lowering of resolution in each 3D file eventually begins to reveal the triangular structures that are formed to create the final object – an image construction process similar to a digital photograph and the building of visual information through pixels. However in this instance the lowest resolution would always be a pyramid rather than a square.

Before the printing process begins the 3D files are set to a specific number of triangles that are then ‘cleaned’ (by adding or subtracting triangles in a 3D software program) to make sure that the model is ‘water tight’ for the printing process. The print ready object is then uploaded to the 3D print on demand company imaterialise to complete the process.

The company is able to render 3D files in a range of materials and in this instance the model is 3D printed in wax then dipped into a ceramic slip – an ancient process known as lost wax casting. The ceramic coated bulb is then baked in an oven that melts the wax whilst hardening the ceramic exterior, creating a shell that is then filled with molten brass. The brass is then plated to have an 18kt goldish appearance.

Paul Laidler & Gordon Cheung in London Studio

Paul Laidler & Gordon Cheung in London Studio

Collaborative print team contributors include: Peter Walters, Robert Keogh, Gordon Cheung and Paul Laidler

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