While 3D printers plummet in price, a crucial question for creative is emerging – how to make models for your 3D printer to print? Autodesk have launched a suite of applications beneath the 123D banner. The applications work in browser or for free and on smartphones, and the elements of the suite all answer this call in different ways. Over the past month we've been spotlighting a select group of artists creating new works with the Autodesk tools.
Ana Rajcevic is an award winning fashion artist whose work spans sculpture and fashion design. Previous pieces have existed both as studio creations and as objects of contemplation within exhibition contexts, in Rajcevic's pursuit of objects that exist as “'fashion artefacts' in the truest sense”. This duality was brought to the fore explicitly with “Animal: The Other Side of Evolution”, a set of resin headwear that resemble hyperevolved extensions of human skeletal structures
A consistent theme in Ana's practice has been transforming the human figure through complex adornments or body-sculptures. In a fitting continuation of her interest in mutation and evolution, Ana took up the opportunity to test how Autodesk 123D Catch might extend her existing creative practice. Together with Kristoffer Joseffson, Lucianno Letteriello and Octave Perrault, Ana devised two trials to push the boundaries of what was possible with 123D Catch.
In her first experiment Ana followed her established process, sculpting a lifesize headpiece by hand, but instead of following with the usual step of fashioning the final piece from multi-part moulds, she instead transitioned to digital. Using her iPad she photographed the handcrafted piece, with 123D Catch stitching together the photos into a 3D model. She wished to augment her strikingly elongated headgear by adding 800 incredibly fine, artificially designed, hairs of varying lengths and contrasting angles to its surface. “I was inspired by insect-like sharp, hairy, textures. I wanted it to appear as though they were growing from the material, with a tough and bristly look of almost needle like quality.”
It would be impossible to craft such thin appendages by hand but with the model converted into a digital file it was possible to use 3D editing software to add the hairs. Even with the 3D model complete Ana could still not be assured of the end outcomes success: “It was a very risky project and we pushed the machine to do something almost impossible. One of the technicians at Shapeways (the printing machines used to realise the piece) called it a "miracle of laser sintering". The look on Ana's face when she admires her “artificial exoskeleton” catching the light in her studio is proof positive of the power of 3D printing to astound even a seasoned professional in materials design.
Acceleration provided the impetus for Rajcevic's second Autodesk experiment. She subtracted the hand crafting process altogether, instead utilising Catch to capture a 3D model of her own head. Booting this file up provided Ana with a malleable starting point from which to begin sculpting the dimensions of her scanned skull into the pronounced morphological embellishments which have been characteristic of her headwear pieces to date. Remarking on the all digital transition Ana says “this made the whole process faster, avoiding the long process of sculpting and modeling the piece by hands, as well as the whole polishing process. Ana gladly notes that “this opened a whole new perspective for me and I have already been talking with Autodesk and other companies about doing much, much more, but in different materials.”
She goes on to add that pushing the boundaries of possibility in fabricated materials is a long standing curiosity of hers. The piece produced with autodesk is the first foray of her new collection of headwear. There is an interesting resonance between the collections conceptual aspirations and the strains she is subjecting her materials to: “The (forthcoming) collection is focused on peeling-off layers of identity, stressing out the fragile nature of self and our own conceptions of who we are in relation to the world around us.”
This is the final in a series of four articles on creatives test driving Autodesk's terrific products, and the 3D art they came up with. Check out Autodesk's app here, and catch up on the project here.
All models printed at Shapeways New York.