Make: 3D Printing (2014)
Part VII. Applications
Chapter 17. Dream Machine
Dissolving the boundaries between imagination and physical reality.
As an artist, I’ve always been driven to create art that no one has ever seen before. My search for the innovative led me to computers in the early ’80s. I recognized the potential for digital technology in art and immersed myself.
A career in visual effects put me at the cutting edge of this technology, where I could explore and experiment with digital 3D tools like procedural modeling and volumetric sculpting, and apply them in unintended ways. I learned to build brand-new tools and processes that made no attempt to emulate traditional methods. These processes resulted in unique virtual artifacts that imbued my digital objects with a surreal and mysterious quality. They were new.
As these newfound capabilities enabled my wildest art ambitions, along came 3D printing, which made it possible to manifest my digital creations in the physical world. It was like a science fiction dream come true.
One reason I find 3D printing so compelling is that it enables production of objects that could not be made in any other way. Rapid prototyping lacks many of the limitations of traditional object-creation methods. By exploiting these capabilities, I’m able to add a powerful dimension to my sculptures: not only are they new, but they appear to be impossible.
Humans are immersed in the world of manufactured objects, and our brains have an intuitive understanding of how things are made. We’ve come to expect certain artifacts of the fabrication processes, such as seams, limited part complexity, and lack of compound curvature. 3D printing enables the creation of objects that conspicuously defy these expectations. When you experience these objects and hold them in your hands, there is an immediate intuitive awareness that you are seeing something that wasn’t possible before. This can be a profoundly surreal experience.
My dream of creating art that no one has ever seen before has come true. Digital technology and 3D printing open up a vast space of entirely new aesthetic possibilities. I am creating and discovering unimaginable forms and sculptures that couldn’t exist before.
This is just the beginning. Technology is constantly advancing. In the future, I predict that creative technologies will completely dissolve the boundaries between imagination and physical reality. I don’t know if the world is ready, but I can’t wait.
Kevin Mack is a pioneering digital artist and Academy Award-winning visual effects designer. Mack uses science and technology to make art that depicts and inspires the transcendent.