ART-O-MATIC: Art Meets New Technologies

October 28, 2012 to March 17, 2013









Click here for the Waterloo Chronicle coverage of this exhibition

Click here for The Record coverage of this exhibition

Click here for The Cord coverage of this exhibition

Today, when we hear of artists working with new technologies, we might imagine kinetic, interactive, or computer-activated works, but both the brush and throwing wheel were once considered new technologies. In fact, the history of art demonstrates artists who have led the way and propelled new art forms through technology and creative use of materials from inventing casting techniques, clay bodies and glazes to paint bodies and applications.

With artists coming from both Canada and the United States, this exhibition explores object scanning, computer-generated form manipulation and 3-D printing, all of which embody Rapid Prototyping (RP) technology. While RP technology is only now beginning to enter the consciousness of the public, the ability to construct or carve 3-D objects with the aid of a computer has been around since the 1980s. Originally invented to produce physical models and prototype parts, the technology eventually extended into applications for architects, designers and sculptors.

Rapid prototyping encompasses a range of computer aided design (CAD) techniques to fabricate a 3-D form in physical space. Forms may either be created using CAD software or an existing object may be scanned in 3-D and manipulated with the software. The software also allows for modification, optimization, surface modelling and texturing. The software also allows one to view the object from any angle, including view from within the object. Objects are then exported to CNC (computer numerical control) milling machines, which carve away at a given material such as Styrofoam, metal, stone or wood. Alternately, the object may be fabricated through a number of 3-D printing methods. For example, our Makerbot Replicator melts and extrudes ABS plastic and lays the material in fine layers until the object is complete. Another example is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technique that uses a high power laser to fuse small particles of plastic, metal, ceramic or glass powders as in the case of Guillaume Lachapelle’s work.

RP technology offers artists entirely new ways of generating work and for approaching their studio practice both physically and conceptually. It is especially interesting to observe how Guillaume Lachapelle and Neri Oxman have fully adopted the technologies while Claire Brunet, Future Retrieval (Guy Michael Davis and Katie Parker) and Susan Shantz prefer to switch back and forth between analogue and digital tools — freed up by the technology to explore new territory while maintaining a link to the processes of physical fabrication and the evidence of the makers’ hands. Regardless of how these artists choose to approach their practice, they challenge traditional notions of the craft/fine art dialectic. We are witnessing the development of a new critical and technical language of art. The artists in this exhibition and others who incorporate RP technologies into their practice are at the forefront of creating new forms and inventing a new relationship to art making.

Christian Bernard Singer, Curator


Click here for The Cord Community’s coverage of the exhibition.