3D print creations: Yuri Pattison

The third in our series of radical objects made with 3D printing apps is a viral meteorite rendered four ways

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 coming month we're spotlighting how a select group of artists created new works with the Autodesk tools.

Yuri Pattison is a London-based artist whose interests in space and visual communication often brings his work into contact with the internet and digital media. When commissioned by Autodesk and Dazed, Yuri chose to utilise the 123D Catch app, in tandem with an archive he carefully assembled in the wake of the Chelyabinsk Meteor. Just as YouTube brimmed with dashcam, smartphone and CCTV footage of the flash across the Russian sky, so too did eBay overflow with listings of meteorites purporting to be fragments of the fabled meteor. Yuri saw Autodesk 123D Catch as an opportunity to approach his archive from a new perspective.

The eBay listings fascinated Yuri as the meticulously photographed cosmic keepsakes demanded a far higher premium than your garden variety meteorite. “I was interested in the displays of authenticity within these eBay listings as the ultimate ridiculous example of traditional culture fetishizing the 'original' object.” Given that the dubious, or at best indeterminate, origin of the listed meteorites was inconsequential to their inflated monetary value Yuri wondered “if there was scope within that to throw out the need for the original object altogether and instead reproduce its form from the visual data alone: to recreate these meteorite fragments simply from found images – without ever owning or handling the original object.”

Some of the photographic testimony accompanying the eBay items was captured from just the sort of angles the 123D Catch app requires to assemble a 3D model. Yuri muses that “in some ways I was using 123D Catch to unearth what I could of the meteorite forms from the archive of digital data. I was interested in seeing how much data I could get the app to reclaim from the sets of images”. Pattison was also curious to see what sort of impression the whole process would leave on the final object. When he uploaded the images to the 123D app the tool created a 3D facsimile of the meteorite, but one which was incomplete. The physical blind spots were a consequence of the way the images were photographed for sale on eBay – not all the angles were covered.

The meteorite 123D produces from the archive is shaped by the algorithm meeting the data just as the “original” meteoroid debris are shaped by a hulking rock meeting our planets atmosphere. The final objects, printed in steel and silver, are pleasing to Yuri in this regard, and he considers their incomplete form as evocative of the way sculptures of antiquity are exhibited. Roman sculptures are often displayed in the full three dimensional space they once occupied, but with obvious supporting plaster props simultaneously providing support and indicating where the milennia weathered structure is incomplete.

123D Catch allowed Yuri to engage with his archive in a more meaningful way than simply purchasing one of the advertised shards. He elaborates that “our negotiation of objects is still guided by provenance, i.e. 'where did it come from?'." Going further Yuri states that “with Chelyabinsk eBay extrusion I wanted to reproduce a physical copy, albeit one with layers of the process present. Digital layering and collage is something we've grown accustomed to in images, however it is quite new and visually alien itself when it is applied to objects.”

The incompleteness points back to the digital source from which the object was summoned – a found imagery archive of hallowed geological shards peddled on eBay. Commenting on the work Yuri states that, for him “the final objects cemented the physical potential of data. Thats what's interesting about digital for me, and the possibilities of reproduction like 3D printing: the information contained and conveyed is the most important thing rather than copy vs original!”

This is the third 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 keep tabs on the project here. 
Yuri next exhibits Chelyabinsk eBay extrusion as part of Reliable Communications. at Legion TV, opening on 6th December

All models printed at Shapeways New York