Tell Me About Your Mother’s Tumblr
I created my first internet artwork in 1993. At the time I was trying to have my work shown by various galleries but without success. The piece was titled “BKPC” (1993), or “Barbie and Ken Politically Correct.” It was a series of 12 photo-vignettes that told a story…
Magdalena Jetelovà, Domestication of Pyramids, 1991, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague
The Viennese Museum of Applied Art is a typical example of Ringstrasse architecture: an elegant, richly ornamented Neo-Renaissance building with an inner peristyle hall and galleries. Upon entering the building, the visitor finds himself/herself, surprisingly, in a darkened, curved space: soon he/she discovers that he/she is standing under large, slanted scaffolding. He/she instinctively walks to the right, where there is a way out. When he/she returns to the daylight, he/she finds himself/herself in the Museum hall, standing next to a thirteen-meter high tilted wall covered in red silica sand. The wall slices the inner space of the Museum diagonally across two floors, slashing razor-like through pillars and balustrades up to the ceiling. The wall, tilted at a 45° angle and with a base thirty-five meters long, is a fragment of one side of a pyramid which could continue in the exterior of the Museum building.
Aleksandr Rodchenko in productivist clothing, 1922–23. Photo by Michail Kaufman. A. Rodchenko & V. Stepanova archive.
(The following is a blogified version of a talk I gave at the Bits 2 Blogs 2013 conference for TWAM (19-3-2013))
the flip-flop (n.) the process of pushing a work of art or craft from the physical world to the digital world and back again—maybe more than once.
Most of us have done this. If you have ever scanned a photo or a letter and printed it out again you have worked through this process.
But, as I’ll explain it gets a bit more complicated than this as we move into higher bandwidth material and three dimensions. What I am going to do today is talk through the opportunities and implications that this process has to the cultural and heritage sector.
So lets start with a few examples. And lets begin with 3D printing. This has been around for a while now and due to the drop in price and increasing availability of parts it is on the verge of becoming domestically available. This has led to our current position near the peak of the hypecycle.
Some of you may already be at a more advanced stage in this cycle known as the ‘trough of disillusionment’. I know I was, my biggest concern was that we were going to be surround by increasing amounts of kipple as a result of this technology.
“There’s the First Law of Kipple… ‘Kipple drives out nonkipple.’
…Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you to go bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up there is twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.
No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot.”
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick, 1968
Kipple was a term used by Dick to describe self replicating, useless crap.
Or to call it by another name, “Crapjects”
Image: Nicolas Nolta
The origins of the term crapjects can be traced back to a paper titled “the future of open fabrication”. Written for the Technology Horizons Programme at the institute for the future. Which sounds like a fun place to work.
“Much of what comes out of 3D printers will be “crapjects” (a contraction of “crappy objects”) unwanted waste created by unskilled designers and fabricated using inferior materials with poorsurface resolution.”
Townsend et all (2011: P7)
So, crapjects are basically the physical equivalent of spam.
I realise I am not painting a positive picture for 3D printing here. However I saw something recently that changed my mind.
This is a 3D printed record. The process was developed by researcher and maker Amanda Ghassaei . Yes, it sounds terrible, If I have my facts correct it’s less than a thousandth the quality of a normal record. But as a proof of concept it is amazing. This was one of the first examples I found that I actually cared about, where media could effectively be moved between forms, dematerialising and materialising as needed.
Movement between forms is something I will touch on a bit later. But before I do I’d really like to talk about how this sounded, or to put it more accurately fidelity.
Fidelity is governed by a law of diminishing returns. What we see here is a polygon (triangle) based mesh, or 3d model. The perceived difference between a 60 triangle model and a 600 triangle model resultes in what we perceive to be a much better mesh.
The difference between 6 thousand and 60 thousand is not so easy to spot. What we are looking at here is essentially the difference in fidelity from a play station one through to a playstation four.
Lucky for us we are arguably at the playstation one stage in terms of the 3D printing quality we have available to us domestically, so we are about to see some rapid improvements over the next few years. But to go back to the title of this talk, I would also argue that currently, fidelity is less important than expanding potential.
It is the transference from physical to digital and back as well as the digital tools that can sit in the middle of this process that make this flip-flop exciting and begins to reveal some real implications for the cultural sector.
This is a project that was posted to vimeo a few months back by artist Greg Petchkovsky I think it made a few people sit up and take notice of the potential offered by 3d printing and really illustrates the point I just made about adding digital tools to the mix.
So besides the obvious potential that this process offers artists to mess with the fabric of reality. If there are any conservators in the reading this I would be really surprised if you have not already come across 3D printing by now as a way to replace parts and repair objects.
But the implications for museums and galleries are much larger than this.
It is becoming increasingly possible to capture the 3D data needed to produce accurate models on domestic cameras, phone cameras.
As can be seen here where data from various camera positions is translated into a 3d model via autodesk 123d Catch.
There are other systems out there and again, they are rapidly improving in terms of fidelity and simplicity. But lets consider the implications. Someone, today can walk into a museum, take a bunch of photos of an object, and print out a copy at home. Big deal you might be thinking. So lets take this a step further, someone could walk in to your museum, take a bunch of photos of an object, create a 3d model and upload it to pirate bay.
Think about the implications of this for a moment. A lot of industries have been taken by surprise at the impact piracy has had. The big problem with piracy I would argue is not the loss of revenue, or the disregard for intellectual property. The problem is the complete lack of context, the total disregard for the whole package and the willingness to put up with really low fidelity in return for convenience.
A good example of how this could potentially manifest itself in crapjecty future is..
To wind this up, no doubt I have raised more questions than I have answered here. I would be lying if I said I had the answers, this is just a projection based upon what has happened along side the increase in internet bandwidth.
The internet started life in text only mode. I am going to show my age and confess to remembering this. Then came the Mozaic browser which made it easier to show images online.
Things progressed, bandwidth increased and people started sharing music, When Napster came out you were really lucky to get an mp3 that was over 128kbps (which is not the best sound quality). Bit torrent came later and people started sharing video files, often prepared to watch films of shockingly bad image and sound quality. 3D files are now being exchanged under the title Physibles, which leaves us with 2 possible choices.
Choice 1 - Sell 3d models of objects in your collections. But, you offer a great package that does not restrict access or use.
How to stop piracy: 1 Create great stuff 2 Make it easy to buy 3 Same day worldwide release 4 Fair price 5 Works on any device
Choice 2 - This is where we visit the idea of flip flopping one last time. You give your 3d object data away. You don’t wait for a visitor to take a couple of sneaky photos of an object which get used to create and then release a low fidelity model online only to see it turn up in a naff souvenir shop half way across the world.
You make the scan yourself and release it under a creative commons license, encourage and be supportive of creative communities of artists and hackers allowing them to remix your collections, coming up with new and surprising ways of presenting the material to exisiting and new audiences.
Aurélien Froment - Pulmo Marina, 2010, HD cam and sound transferred to 35 mm, dolby SR, 5 min 10 seconds, production still: Aurélien Froment, Monterey, 17 February 2010, Courtesy of the artist, Motive Gallery, Amsterdam and Marcelle Alix, Paris & BUCHAREST BIENNALE.
The film features a Phacellophora Camtscatica (egg-yolk jelly), as it drifts in its tank home at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A voice-over informs the viewer of its baroque but literally brainless anatomy, its voracious cannibalism and its classical forebears. It compiles an extended description of the creature according to various modes of knowledge, perception and understanding, from ancient mythologies to natural sciences and exhibition design.
This isn’t Photoshopped. Furniture designer Ferruccio Laviani created this hand-carved storage unit so that it appears that you’re looking at a warped image. Could you have this in your home without it driving you completely nuts?
To log on to a machine or connect to a network or BBS, esp. for purposes of entering a virtual reality simulation such as a MUD or IRC (leaving is “jacking out”). This term derives from cyberpunk SF, in which it was used for the act of plugging an electrode set into neural sockets in order to interface the brain directly to a virtual reality. It is primarily used by MUD and IRC fans and younger hackers on BBS systems.