Fabbers and Art

A Debate on the RP-ML


Copyright © 1999, Ennex Corporation. All rights reserved.

Background:

On February 12, 1999, computer sculptor Michael Rees posted a message on the Rapid Prototyping Electronic Mailing List (RP-ML) referring subscribers to the Web site of Douglas J. Bucci, an art student at Temple University. The site exhibits several artistic sculptures and utilitarian items designed and made by Bucci by a variety of techniques, including additive fabbers (SLA and SLS). Marshall Burns responded to this message with some excitement about the taste of the future given by this Web site. This led to an impassioned debate among RP-ML veterans Rees, Steven Pollack, and Brock Hinzmann about the role of art in society and how it could be impacted by the use of fabbers. The debate inadvertently carried on for a time in private, but then was brought to the public list again and attracted some comments from other list subscribers. The messages are reproduced here in their entirety with the permission of their authors.


Index of Messages

  1. Rees to List
  2. Burns to Rees and List, copy to Prof. Stanley Lechtzin
  3. Rees to Burns and List
  4. Pollack to Burns, copy to Rees, List, and Lechtzin
  5. Hinzmann to Burns and Pollack, copy to Rees
  6. Pollack to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Rees
  7. Rees to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Pollack
  8. Burns to Rees and Hinzmann, copy to Pollack
  9. Hinzmann to Burns and Rees, copy to Pollack
  10. Pollack to Rees, copy to Hinzmann and Burns
  11. Norman Kinzie to Pollack
  12. Rees to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Pollack
  13. Rees to Pollack, copy to Hinzmann and Burns
  14. Pollack to Rees, copy to Hinzmann and Burns
  15. Pollack to List (multiple)
  16. Catherine Minich to Pollack, copy to List
  17. Larry Blasch to List
  18. Glenn Whiteside to List
  19. Hinzmann to Rees, copy to Burns and Pollack
  20. Hinzmann to Pollack and Rees, copy to Burns
  21. Hinzmann to Pollack and Rees, copy to Burns
  22. Hinzmann to Blasch and List
  23. Rees to Hinzmann and List, copy to Pollack and Burns
  24. Pollack to Hinzmann, copy to Blasch and List


Rees to List


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Friday, February 12, 1999 08:45

Dear rapid prototypers,

Please visit the web page of this talented jewelry student at Tyler in Philadelphia. Put that in your machine and smoke it!

http://blue.temple.edu/~crafts/mjcc/local/gallery/thesis/bucci/indexdb.html

Please be sure to read his statement. It looks to me like this guy could enter industry as easily as run his own jewelry company. He's got all the skills!!

best,
--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Burns to Rees and List, copy to Prof. Stanley Lechtzin


From: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
To: Michael Rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net> List: Rapid prototyping <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Cc: Stanley Lechtzin <crafts (at) blue.temple (dot) edu>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 08:54

Michael,

Thanks for pointing this out. This is the future of manufacturing and merchandizing. In the future, there will be hundreds, then thousands, and then millions of these on-line catalogs showing products that people have designed and made on their fabbers. Viewers will have the choice of ordering these products from the designer, either as shown or with custom modifications, or downloading the CAD file (with a royalty automatically charged to their credit card) so they can make it on their own fabber or modify it themselves before fabbing. One difference, on Web sites of the future the images will be 3-D so viewers can rotate them and look at them from all angles before deciding on a purchase.

Congratulations are due to Stanley Lechtzin for designing the program at Temple University that brought this work about. One complaint: There is, unless I missed it, no way to contact the student directly if one is interested. The student's own e-address should appear on the site.

*****************************************************************
Marshall Burns, President
Ennex(TM) Corporation
Fabbing the Future(TM)
10911 Weyburn Avenue, Suite 332, Los Angeles, U.S.A. 90024
Phone: +1 (310) 824-8700. Fax: +1 (310) 824-5185
E-mail: fabbers (at) Ennex (dot) com. Web site: http://www.Ennex.com
*****************************************************************
***** Copyright (c) 1998, Ennex Corporation


Rees to Burns and List


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 09:06

Marshall and rp list,

I visited Temple this year and was incredibly impressed by the program that Stanley Lechtzin has created. Stanley has been working in this area for some 20 years. He's come up the hard way, learning CNC milling and programming and now employing RP. He has been more than generous with his students. The students are cracker jack. They take to this like fishes in water. Many Kudos goes to Stanley for creating one of the first, and best, programs of its kind. I can't overstate my admiration for him and the program he's created.

I was a little embarassed lecturing in front of one of the real pioneers of ART and Automatic Fabrication.

Bravo!!
--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Pollack to Burns, copy to Rees, List, and Lechtzin


From: Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
To: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Cc: Michael Rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>; List: Rapid prototyping <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>; Stanley Lechtzin <crafts (at) blue.vm.temple (dot) edu>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 13:10

If people can view the file over the internet then what will prevent them from SAVING THE FILE AS just like you can do now with pictures? Would you have to insert a poison pill in the image file? Or alter it to be incomplete? What would prevent them from completing it?

Also, you might get a number of artists selling libraries to the manufacturers to be included with the hardware.

I still disagree about the million fabbers though. Even if the price got down to $1,000 in todays money, like a good scanner or printer, most people would not buy one. Especially if they were limited in material use. Maybe one would output in steel, another in precious metal, still another in ceramic, another in high density plastic. You have stated before that it may become neighborhood fabbers which I could agree with, but I do not see it evolving into personal use because of the specialized materials.

Creativity is also not widespread.

There also may be a Kinko-ization of RP. First you may get 500,000 neighborhood fabbers but eventually they will be bought out and consolidated. Marketing of the end product will cause further centralization. The internet has the ability to create 500,000 newspapers, but it has not. Indeed, people like the Drudge Report are internet enabled but you still do not have 500,000 active, and commercially viable publishing houses. Maybe 5,000 if you are generous. So why would a cheap RP bring about any greater proliferation of manufacturers than the internet has of publishers?

Steven Pollack


Hinzmann to Burns and Pollack, copy to Rees


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Cc: Michael Rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Subject: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 15:53

I agree with Steven's cautionary tone, but I think we can suggest possible answers to some of his questions.

The current situation with on-line music publication may provide a model for watching how this thing goes with protecting the intellectual property rights of the artist/designer. To the extent that the designer wants to gain a following and is willing to let copies go out free, the current state of the Internet makes it possible. All we need is Marshall's million fabbers. To the extent that the IP is protected, you will need some sort of protection software embedded in the design's code and you will likely want some sort of payment system. The current payment system is already showing flaws, as in the on-line auction business, where some of the goods being sold are not what they were represented to be and some of the buyers have not paid up.

I imagine some artists will belong to pop-up 3-D clip art catalogs and will collect royalties from sale of the catalogs, rather than from each individual use. As Michael and I have discussed previously, it will also be one thing to buy a copy and another to buy the original from Michael, with his finger prints on it, digital or otherwise. It might be nice if the starving artist in Indonesia or Africa or New York who creates something might be able to sell it directly to me, and profit thereby, rather than go through a trader.

The issue of the million fabbers is one we can't predict. When networked computing was first conceived and then demonstrated in the 1960s, the microprocessor and affordable personal computers did not exist. Although I agree that creativity is not widespread and that I can't imagine what I would make on such a machine on a daily basis (afterall, I don't shop everyday for new objects or even replacements, let alone art objects), it's funny how people find interesting uses for new technology, once it's available. As other technologies take over more and more of our basic needs, perhaps we will become a global society of artists, communicating through visual and tactile art works, as well as through words and sounds.

I disagree that the Internet hasn't created 500,000 newspapers; we do have them. They're called Web sites. It's just that most of them are read by very few people. To the extent that an artist is publishing physical objects, the analogy to the newspaper, publishing information and news to other people, is similar, except that an old newspaper has limited use, whereas a published art work continues to have value. >>It keeps on giving.<<

As for material limitations, I imagine that will not be a limitation in the future. We are not limited to black and white printers today. It's easy enough to foresee that material cartridges will exist, allowing multiple-head jetting of composites of materials. The creativity of that aspect alone is intriguing, as people experiement with functionally gradient materials and varying aesthetics of composite constructions. The cost of such cartidges will likely not be cheap, which is why the materials producers are the ones really interested in keeping RP alive and progressing. One concern I have is the recyclability of such composites.

Steven's Kinko-ization future is a distinct possibilty. A flurry of activity and then consolidation. But again, the impact of cheap RP is not so easy to predict. Consider the following statements in the context of RP:

>>By augmenting human intellect, we mean increasing the capability of a man [sic] to approach a complex situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems...Every person who does his thinking with symbolized concepts (whether in the form of the English language, pictographs, formal logic, or mathematics) should be able to benefit significantly... You can integrate your new ideas more easily, and thus harness your creativity more continuously, if you can quickly and flexibly change your working record...a direct new innovation in one particular capability can have far-reaching effects throughout the rest of your capability hierarchy... These latent capabilities may previously have been unusable in the hierarchy and become usable because of the new capability at the higher level...<< [Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, by Douglas C. Engelbart, Stanford Research Institute, October 1962]

After writing that, Doug and his SRI team went on the next year to invent the computer mouse, as a first step, as well as the modem, hyperlinking of documents, and a host of other technologies that totally changed our relationship with the computer and with the world around us. Doug and his team were simply trying to make better use of the computer to solve complex problems by involving more people simultaneously in the process. At that time, they could not predict cheap, ubiquitous personal computing or (at least not all of) its consequences. Cheap RP could, likewise, open up latent capabilities and applications that we don't realize and can't predict.

Brock Hinzmann
Technology Navigator
SRI International
[formerly the Stanford Reseach Institute)

Steven may be right with his Kinko-ization comment. Perhaps


Pollack to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Rees


From: Steven Pollack <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
To: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; Michael Rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 20:12

Brock,

Very well thought out. But for all the effort that went into this message, why didn't you post it to the RP list?

Steve


Rees to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Pollack


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Saturday, February 13, 1999 21:45

Brock,

You make a lot of nice points there. But I have to disagree with one that I hear all the time. It goes like this "Creativity is not widespread". Now I know I circulate in a world that is full of creative types, and that my opinion is slanted, but I see creativity everywhere. I see people just dieing to get it out. They're crying for it. As it becomes commonplace for people to work for several employers through out there life, this human value--creativity--will have greater expression. Most people get creativity banged out them because they're constantly told they can't make a living like that. Well I'm I struggle more than thrive, but I am middle class. AND I LOVE WHAT I DO! This goes back to something the German Artist Joseph Beuys said: "Everyone an artist, Everyone a human wealth potential." IT IS NOT JUST THE DOMAIN OF ARTISTS!

My 2.5 cents.

best,
--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Burns to Rees and Hinzmann, copy to Pollack


From: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
To: zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>; Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
Cc: Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Sunday, February 14, 1999 00:12

Give yourself a break, Michael. Those sentiments are worth at least two bits.

P.S. I do wish this thread had been shared with the list. Some good debating going on. Do the authors want to give me permission to post a compilation?

*****************************************************************
Marshall Burns, President
Ennex(TM) Corporation
Fabbing the Future(TM)
10911 Weyburn Avenue, Suite 332, Los Angeles, U.S.A. 90024
Phone: +1 (310) 824-8700. Fax: +1 (310) 824-5185
E-mail: fabbers (at) Ennex (dot) com. Web site: http://www.Ennex.com
*****************************************************************
***** Copyright (c) 1998, Ennex Corporation


Hinzmann to Burns and Rees, copy to Pollack


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; zedand00 <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Sunday, February 14, 1999 16:31

To tell you the truth, I thought when I responded to All Recipients, I was responding to the entire RP list. For some reason, the original message that came to me was copied to the four of us. Although it's a nice group, I wouldn't mind expanding it. (On the other hand, I was supposed to be writing a paper on this subject and my struggle with some of the philosphical issues involved have prevented me from finishing a satisfactory result.)

In response to Michael's $64,000 comment (the price is going up), I do agree with you philosophically, in the sense that many people are born with creativity, but as you also stated, it's usually beaten out of people by the time they are 10 years old. My favorite description of this activity is in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), wherein his relatives convince him that he can never be an artist, because his picture of a snake that swallowed an elephant looks like an old brown hat to them.

I was responding to and agreeing with Steven's point, however, which I took to mean that, in fact, given the chance to be creative, most of us lack the talent or skill with the technologies available to express it in a form that is pleasing to anyone but ourselves. We are also faced with public displays of art that don't communicate any deep feelings to us, either, further inhibiting any desire to embarrass ourselves. In the connection to RP and art, my friend Brian Clark questions whether most of it is art or simply craft. What is art and does the availability of a new technology really make anyone more of an artist?

Keith Brown, himself an RP artist, nonetheless questions a comment I made about a new aesthetic and whether the availability of a new technology really allows that. Has a new sense been added? he asks. My only defense is that science and technology have indeed changed our perception of the world. When we look up into the stars today, even though they are virtually unchanged, we see something quite different and are inspired in quite a different way than we as humans of 4000 years ago, also not really much changed, viewed those same stars. Even so, great art transcends those changes in technology and continues to reach something deeper than data.

In support of Michael's notion that the creativity still resides in us somewhere and is busting to get out, I am reminded of a comment by Kimberly Voigt, another RP artist, that she took great joy in the beauty and artistry of the industrial activity she viewed while working at Kohler. She wasn't speaking of the craft that went into the bathroom fixtures that were being produced there, but rather the flying sparks and flowing molten metal, and the movements of the people at their work. Those people were being creative without even knowing it, although they acknowledged to her taking pleasure in their results. In fact, they were surprised that anyone else saw it, too.

[Editor's note: The author of this message has advised us that the attribution of this comment to Voigt may have been an error and that the comment may actually have come from Eve Andree Laramee.]

In some regard, I suppose I am thinking aloud, trying to understand the significance of RP and Art. Perhaps I'll finish that paper eventually. In the meantime, if Steven and Marshall agree that these ramblings should be public, go ahead.

Brock
ps, if no onntioned it already, check out the Feb IEEE Spectrum full layout on SFF,uding a short bit at the very end on art.


Pollack to Rees, copy to Hinzmann and Burns


From: Steven Pollack <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
To: zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>; Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Sunday, February 14, 1999 18:56

How did this discussion become about art? Now I love to question and debate "what is art?" and I will in the next paragraph but my initial forray into this subject was whether there could ever be 500,000 commercially viable fabbers brought about by cheap RP. I initially made the point that the internet did not create 500,000 new publishers and I stand by that but the counterpoint was also made that, indeed, there are millions of websites which are like publications and I can sort of agree with that too. The point to me though is that while I now have the ability to create my own publication, and I can also peruse millions of other "publications", I still buy a newspaper, a few magazines, and an investment newsletter. The hobbyist web publisher had some, but not major, consequences for traditional publishers. Millions of new "publishers" offer a limited quality of NEW information. Now many people did offer to post their education and knowledge up to the internet, and I view this as a massive encyclopedia of knowledge to be referenced at 37,333bps which is in itself amazing, yet I could have always troubled myself to go to the library for such information.. But I do not see that peoples creativity was tapped. I do not notice people now being more expressive due to this access to the marketplace of ideas. I see much aggregation of content websites and the creative people now have a much better and direct access to the consumer of creativity. Matt Drudge was always going to make it into writing as he fought to gain inside access to a media job. The internet did not tap or create his passion and skill at reporting, it enabled it. And my view of RP has always been that it will level the playing field between craftsman/artist and large manufacturer. It is a tool which knocks down many barriers to entry and economies of scale. It is an enabling technology which allows the small talented craftsman/artist to become financially viable as a small enterprise instead of being forced into the creative department of a monolithic multinational.

Now about art. What is art and is it different from craft? Is a Picasso art? Is a numbered lithograph art? Is a mass produced poster of a Picasso art? These three last questions lead to my decision that art is about numbers. Art to me is anything which is one of a kind. A kohler faucet is inspired by the same pit of creativity as a painting. The painter usually means to sell his product as well as the faucet designer, so it is not about commercial versus purist expression. I am a goldsmith. Jewelry is usually relegated by the art world as craft. Why? If I spend twenty hours creating a beautiful one of a kind piece, original design, how is it any different from a sculptor whose work does get accolades in the art community and can be placed in a museum? Is it because jewelry is "functional"? Many museums of modern art have performance and situational art. Why would body adornment be different? SO I disagree with the art world about what is art and view that world as somewhat self protective. Is art about time spent on a project? An oil which takes months versus an art fair wall decoration which is not considered art due to is ease? If time spent on a project constitutes art then CAD/CAM will be precluded. But serios museums include white pictures with a big black dot on it so time spent must not be the answer. So does art require making things the old way, with old tools? No. I reject the "art world" as self protective exclusionary. Art is one of a kind, and original. In my opinion. CAD/CAM can be art. Here is your piece and here is the disk.

Art requires the artist to constantly strive to discover what is new. Many "designer name" jewelers like David Yurman never explore the new. They develop a marketable look and spend years applying it to new products. It reminds me of a wealthy lady who came into my store with her numbered Channel ring telling me how valuable it was because it was number 358/2900. I sold her a $4,000 one of a kind piece with the understanding that I would never produce it again. 1/1. I never could have produced it again as I had built it around a very unusually shaped stone. There is nothing more painful to me than making the same piece twice. Just as there is nothing more exhilerating than the challenge of a design I have neither seen nor tried before. It is indeed hard to make a living creating and selling one of a kind pieces. The problem is not that I run out of new concepts and ideas, but that there is no economy of scale in doing one of a kind work. I can have a full box of work and make a decent $40,000/year living by selling and creating $300,000 in jewelry. But I can make no more unless I am willing to standardize and reproduce some pieces using molds and assembly line practices. To me, that is the day I go from artist to merchant. RP will give me the ability to be rapidly creative. I let so many ideas slide due to lack of time. The wax model takes 4-8 hours by hand. The idea takes 20 minutes. Now, I can make 3-4 pieces per week because that is all the bench time I can commit to with all my other responsibilities, including sales. If I could wake up to a brand new wax everyday, I could produce alot more unique pieces of art.

Yes, please post this entire discussion to RP.

Steve


Norman Kinzie to Pollack


From: Nkin (at) aol (dot) com <Nkin (at) aol (dot) com>
To: themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 06:43

When speculating on the potential of digital 3D fabrication technology, please consider the full impact of 2D digital printing technology. Just think of how many people use this technology to produce 2D hardcopy, THEN, turn your attention to the world of 3D objects.

Briefly, a lot of people depend on doing things with their 2D printers which people wouldn't have dreamed of doing twenty years ago. Sometimes these things are "creative," sometimes they are not. Sometimes the products are "high quality," sometimes they are "rough draft." Some products are meant to sell, or to save, others are intended to be thrown away after quick review.

An essential characteristic common 2D (digital) printing shares with future "3D printing," is that the output is tangible "hardcopy." It satisfies real needs for people who are not entirely happy with "virtual" alternatives.

Without an easy and inexpensive 3D printer to play with, who can reliably guess the extent of the 3D potential? [Would any of us have predicted the currently advertised $89 color printer just ten years ago?]


[ Regarding the "control" of digital files, I don't know if there is a good solution. It'll be interesting to watch the music industry, which may be forced to deal with similar issues, much sooner. ]


Norm Kinzie


Rees to Hinzmann, copy to Burns and Pollack


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 09:33

Brock Hinzmann wrote:
> In the connection to RP and art, my friend Brian Clark
> questions whether most of it is art or simply craft. What is art and
> does the availability of a new technology really make anyone more of
> an artist?

Hey, publish a synpopses on the list. I'm not sure how it happened that its just us four.

I want to responde to a coupleof points.

Firstly, about rp art being just craft. As one can imagine, this is an enormous issue. At the same time, a reveiw of my show in December in the New York TImes, criticized my work for just that. Let me take a stab at this. It is true that the unexamined use of a material or technology becomes a craft or "how to" issue. Typically in art the way an object transcends this is by the criticality of its maker. By criticality I mean some reflective aspect of the production of the piece so that the work is not just a process but is rather indicative of larger concerns and issues, about art, about life, about utility and on. Brock, we've corresponded about Duchamp. His "readymades" were objects appropriated from industry and placed within an aesthetic context. This recontextualization of the industrial product brought volumes of issues to the fore for art, not the least of which was Duchamp's desire to claim or incorporate the systems of product into the work. This was then and is now controversial.

At the same time, the intention one has for the meaning of the work is tantamount in art. This is problematized by the fact that there is no objective meaning associated to a form (one could also say this about language. There is no objective meaning associated with the word "word" for example. It is its context that defines it.) In that there may be an enormous expanse between the artists intention for a work, the meaning that its forms are designed to engender, and the way that intention, or the forms that are used to communicate it, is received. To take this a little furter, the form or its meaning must be accurately contextualized to give it its appropriate meaning. Like any specialized or niche language, the language must be learned. There are highly personalized uses of language, what you referred to as Art which pleases oneself, and more generalized languages, ones which refer to the history of art. It is these latter languages which are generally referred to as art to the art literati. But people who are not indoctrinated to this niche language of art, find it very difficult to incoporate these more historically based intentions especially when the period of history is defined as the last 80 years.

Where does this leave us? Back where the rubber meets the road, I presume. That is, any work of art cannot be received with a proper contextualization of that work. This can happen in a couple of different ways--by the articles that critics have written, the statements of the artists, or by a life long examination of the problems of one artist and the viewers ability to see and assess this information against contemporary culture. This last point is more typically germaine, which is why it is so common that an artist is not appreciated until they have passed on.

Much computer art, or to be more specific, much computer sculpture made with rp has been made against the gee whiz factor. "This technology is so cool", etc.,. As of yet, the critical or reflective aspect has yet to creep in except in the hands of some very unusual practitioners. People who have been tracking down the problems of their work for a long time now and who see the computer and RP as a tool to solve general aesthetic, formal, linguistic issues in the work. I would include myself in this latter catagory. RP solves problems for me about realizing content in my work.

And here's a fine line, when is an artist solving genuine artistic problems, or creating genuine aesthetic problems and when are they either using the gee whiz factor or riding on the laurels of work that has gone before them. (In the latter issue, riding on the laurels of the work that has gone before them, this is also problematic. No one comes without historical context, it is almost impossible to do that. But the issue is to advance the historical context. Using computers and RP to remake Hans Arp biomorphic forms is not advancing the context, it is remaking the context in a different productive discipline). With that issue, strangely we come to credibility. Why and how do you believe that an artist has put forward something in the first sense, that of creating aesthetic problems instead of the second.

To top all of this convolution off, two things can happen. Firstly, because an artist's work is not properly contextualized, original and interesting solutions are missed by the general public or by the art literati. Secondly, an artist can make a good argument for their incorporation into the art conversation only later to be rejected, in that their arguments were too localized, to much of that moment and not speaking to broader moments.

I would also add one other thing to this craft debate. If indeed Marshual Macluans (sp?) famous line "The medium is the message" is true, then without recourse to emergent qualities how would it be possible for the way a thing is made to transcend that thing? This is a very big problem for me as an artist. Now, the secrets out of the bag, you all know that I sit around designing sculptures wondering "How does this form mean that thing?, Are there emergent qualities? If the medium is the message and the message is psychic anatomy, is psychic anatomy paralell or intrinsic in additive constrction?" and on and on... Which makes me either kind of a-social or abnormally obsessed.

also you wrote:

> Keith Brown, himself an RP artist, nonetheless questions a comment I
> made about a new aesthetic and whether the availability of a new
> technology really allows that. Has a new sense been added? he asks. My
> only defense is that science and technology have indeed changed our
> perception of the world.

This is a major issue in science and in art. The issue of emergent qualities. Simply stated, can a system produce anything which is outside of that system, not intrinsic to it or implied by it, or does it only and simply produce all of the permutations and combinations inherent in it? What follows is a short text I gave at a panel discussion on this issue.

Quote:

Emergent Qualities
Rees, 1 16 99

The debate over emergent qualities is the new chicken and the egg. I have gone on record as saying that we are not in a new space but in a highly accelerated space. To this end, from the standpoint of quantum physics, what we really have is a different point of view. As we begin to approach the speed of light, certain things happen to time and space that until Einstein we did not anticipate. Although we may see these things as new or unusual or somehow emerging they may in fact always be present within the sum total of what we know as world.

One might posit that what marks the new technologies are that they are all light based, or energy based. The light of the computer screen, the laser which draws the cross section of these sculptures, the laser which prints the pages, the light which exposes the photo paper. In this sense, the machines are approaching the speed of light. And I will repeat that the human organism is well in advance of what we can do, or what machines can do, or what we understand of it, especially in the sense that it might be an organism of light. For sure, as we approach the speed of light, things are looking quite strange.

Emergent qualities within a mechanistic environment are also always seen as progress. This has its problematic moral implications. I have yet to be convinced that the values that we hold as dear in this cultural are superior to 8th century India, or some other time.

At the same time, I have taken note of certain perceptual developments within myself as a result of my involvement with the computer. I wouldn't defend these observations as true or false, rather I would simply note them.

Here are some of those things: I found Rothko to be less interesting than Pollock, where previously it was the other way around. I had previously been more interested in Rothko. The space that Pollock presents is most similar to the matrix of CAD space.
Rothko = texture mapping, raster based imagery
Pollack = structure modeling, or vector based imagery

My sense that because the computer and the programs are based on more subtle energy (an energy which is closer to a final entropic state), that my own energetic intentions for the work affect the files, that indeed this energy comes through the sculpture. For sure there is something quirky and idiosyncratic about these sculptures, which can be chalked up to my strange design sense. Or, chalked up to the same premise as the butterfly effect in chaos theory (that the flapping of a butterflies wings can effect an entire weather system), that my presence in front of the screen and my participation in design, electronic transmission, etc., has some small butterfly like effect. This perhaps is not an emergent quality. The sense that one is psychically connected with their tools is not exactly a new phenomenon. And yet with the computer, I am getting the feeling that these works are closer to a direct projection from my mind than anything that I've ever worked with. All though these techniques are built upon renaissance technologies (technologies that artists have invented) I can't resist the temptation to conclude that some new qualities are present, or are present in a more available way, than ever before.

I am aware of many of the ethical and psychological traps of defending the potential of emergent qualities and of denying that potential. But one thing is quite sure: Even though a video would participate in all of the compositional development of painting, it is decidedly not painting. A paint program on a computer is the metaphor of painting, not painting itself. The history that these sculptures are really crafted by light cannot be denied as the memory of its creation. To my knowledge this makes "Cakra Seuss" more like a tree, with its ability to photosynthesize, than it does like a Bernini. And that in a curious convolution, these technologies make the classical issues of how a sculpture is made irrelevant in favor of its content, the intention of the maker. These seem to be developments that are unusual, perhaps new.

Denying emergent qualities is a little slippery. It is the alteration of phase and or scale changes between various modes as if they were the same quality. It is a massive scaleable enterprise. As of yet we have not succeeded in making that scaleable enterprise life like, instead it is the mirror of our own pretenses of intellectuality, not of our ability to create or recreate life. At this point I approach the edge of this problem where the image of it in my mind begins to mutate in various and fascinating forms. Emergent qualities or not, we are certainly presented with something that we previously have not entertained.

end quote:

And if you've read all this, You get a prize!!

best,
--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Rees to Pollack, copy to Hinzmann and Burns


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com <steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com>
Cc: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>; Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 09:43

Dear Steve, this was a nice little essay you wrote.

I issued some of my thoughts in my last email. Let me adress a couple more particular to your points.

Firstly, you stated that art is about being one of kind. As a problem to this definition let me point out that Kohler's storage shelves are full of one of a kind faucets that didn't pass their marketing muster.

The problem for all of us is that when we try to make definitions out of something as seemingly subjective as art, there are always exceptions. To this end, art is an objective body of knowledge, like any other, with its experts and panels who debate and decide what is and isn't included. These are quite abstract and can be quite whimsical. When I look to science I see something of the same. Now this either objectifies art or subjectifies science. Both accomplishements would be positive in my eyes.

Secondly, in regards to definitions, unfortunately and no matter how cynical it sounds (and I am not a cynic), art is what the experts say it is. I believe this to be an axiom.

I found this point in your text quite accurate and very important:

It is a tool which knocks down many barriers to entry and economies of scale. It is an enabling technology which allows the small talented craftsman/artist to become financially viable as a small enterprise instead of being forced into the creative department of a monolithic multinational.

best to all

--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Pollack to Rees, copy to Hinzmann and Burns


From: Steven Pollack <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
To: zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>; Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 11:16

Check this out!

(please read the following as passioned debate and not any sort of attack, I enjoy this discussion)

So what you are saying is that art is enmeshed in the intent. Take three identical objects. One was made by a traditional artist as a sculpture with all the attendant metaphysical meanings behind the piece. Another was simultaneoulsly produced by an overseas company for mass production as an interesting gift item in five and dimes across the world. Finally the third piece was created in an RP environment as a fitting in a highly complex piece of machinery. It was just by fate that all three pieces were made at the same time in the same material and the same design. You are saying that one could be considered art, one craft, and the third machinery based on the known intention.

My gut feeling is that art was more useful in earlier times and is having a hard time redefining itself. Before photography, paintings were jusdged on their likeness to reality. The same is true of the crude prehistoric statues we find in art museums around the world. Then came photography and the art of painting suddenly shifted to abstract and metaphysical. I think the reason behind this was to escape the trap of comparison with photographic reality. By making art something to be argued about, analyzed as to intention, and defined in cultural terms, it was somehow elevated from the crafts from which it came. RP seems to be doing the same to sculpture. So long as the definition of art is elusive, we create a specialized field of art critics to make these judgement calls. Personally there is not differnce between art and craft and I stick by my one of a kind definition. That creative people strive to make that which has never been seen before is the reward to society of supporting the arts.

I also believe that artists never becoming known in their lifetimes is a function of this searching beyond what society presently envisions. The personality type of someone who can think out of bounds, is naturally scary(and intriguing) to society as a whole. After they are dead, society can enjoy the artist work without having to engage their eclectic personality and behavior.

Steve


Pollack to List (multiple)


Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 11:31


[Steve posted on the RP-ML copies of most of the above correspondence.]


Catherine Minich to Pollack, copy to List


From: Catherine Minich <cminich (at) astro.ocis.temple (dot) edu>
To: steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com <steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com>
Cc: Rapid Prototype Mailing List <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: Re: [Fwd: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!]
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 15:09

I rarely post to this list but I have learned volumes from the contributions of others. However, the current thread is close to my heart. I am one of the students studying with Mr. Lechtzin at Tyler. (You may know me because I periodically beg some of you for material samples.)

My goal as an RP artist is to try to find forms that I could not have made nor would I think of making any other way. I'm not sure how successful I've been but I keep trying. I attempt to explore the natures of CAD and RP in their differences from other fabrication medium. This can, by the way, involve multiple iterations of the same piece or multiple components so I'm not inclined to agree with the "one-of-a-kind" philosophy. It seems pointless to deny the nature of a medium simply because it does not fit into a preconceived definition of "art" or "craft". If I were to continue to make work via CAD with the sole intention of expediting what I can make with my hands, it probably would be faster and easier for the most part, but it would not be art. It would teach nothing new. Creativity is the process by which a new idea is conceived. A primary (perhaps only) function of art is to teach these new ideas. When an audience is exposed to new ideas, their minds are potentially opened. The open minds engender new creativity. Or so I hope. I recognize RP as a family of extraordinary technologies which can make the known world of 3-D objects easily and readily accessible. I am hoping to find, in the use of CAD and RP, an, as yet, unknown world.

-Cate Minich


Larry Blasch to List


From: lblasch@opw-fc.com <lblasch@opw-fc.com>
To: rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 16:15

Dear Brock and list,

Although I am entering this thread at a late date, I have had discussions by way of the RP-ML concerning this in the past.

You said:

>I disagree that the Internet hasn't created 500,000 newspapers; we do
>have them. They're called Web sites. It's just that most of them are
>read by very few people.

One reason that so many exist but so few are actively visited is "Advertising" how do you find a web page unless it's by word of mouth or e-mail? You see it scroll past on someone else's page...or on a search engine. Do you actually visit all the pages you get hits on when you search for something? If you did, you wouldn't get anything done. So regrettably, 500,000 artists or fabber pages would result in a few being visited by many, and most languishing in obscurity.

I fear that the individual artists will be lost amid the onslaught of commercialized "unique" products that will be marketed by the conglomerates. There will always be the customer who shops the back alley shops and web pages for the true unique.

The real question is this: Will you be able to command a price sufficient to make a living if there is no concept of "local artist"? He's the one in your home town, who you can visit easily. In the global village there is no local artist, but there is the potential for many more global shoppers. How will they find your web gallery?

The concept of "Starving Artist" has existed for centuries.

Sincerely,

Larry Blasch
Systems Administrator for Engineering Services

OPW Fueling Components E-Mail:lblasch@opw-fc.com
P.O. Box 405003 Voice: (513) 870-3356
Cincinnati, OH 45240-5003 USA Fax: (513) 870-3338

**********************************************************************
* "Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else." *
**********************************************************************


Glenn Whiteside to List


From: Monica & Glenn Whiteside <SiderWhite (at) worldnet.att (dot) net>
To: Rapid Prototype Mailing List <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: RE: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Monday, February 15, 1999 17:38

Great debate everybody and thanks for publishing it on the rp-ml - it will take some time to thoroughly read and properly digest all that dialogue! Now if we could only elect politicians who could debate so intelligently!

Best Regards,

Glenn Whiteside


Hinzmann to Rees, copy to Burns and Pollack


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: zedand00 <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>; Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 11:14

I did read it all. What's my prize? My reall prize, of course, is the joy of reading it and imagining in my mind what your next sculpture might look like, as a result of your thinking.

I am reminded of a conversation I had here with a group of Silicon Valley industrial designers. One of them Neil Goldberg, in a general discussion about RP and design tools, asked that someone invent a more natural interface between what the designer feels and the output. Combined with Michael's sculptures, I see a VR-type multisensory input, digitized and captured and translated to 3-D solids and then to RP, and finally to a sculpture. The final result is something that captures the physical part of the human anatomy, twisting and turning to absorb its surroundings, but also show the other senses and the auras that they sense. Whereas Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase succeeds in capturing different angles of the physcial body in time and space and presenting it on a 2-D surface, Rees' psychic anatomy captures the sensory organs dangling at their frayed ends grasping at the touch of the stairs on the feet and even the very sound of the air passing over the skin as the body descends, and presents it in a 3-D space.

But perhaps I'm asking too much. As Joni Mitchell once pointed out, everyone asks her to play a song again, but nobody ever asked Van Gogh, Hey, paint another Starry Night, man.

Brock


Hinzmann to Pollack and Rees, copy to Burns


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: steve <steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com>; zedand00 <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 11:15

Art may be what the experts say it is, unfortunately, but an artist may also be what he or she says she is.


Hinzmann to Pollack and Rees, copy to Burns


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: steve <steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com>; zedand00 <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
Cc: Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 11:30

I'm not so sure I agree that art was judeged on its likeness to reality. That part was craft. The paintings that really survived as great art are still judged today on their ability to capture something beneath the picture and reaches beyond the current forms of expression to what we are feeling, but can't articulate, either because it is a sense that we cannot articulate, or because it is something in the future that is still forming in our subconscious. In some cases, it is only after the artist is dead that reality catches up with what the artist was expressing and many more people are able to say, Aha! No matter how good the artist is at being an artist, the experts and the general public won't recognize the result as great art unless we can't eventually relate to it somehow.

Brock


Hinzmann to Blasch and List


From: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
To: lblasch <lblasch@opw-fc.com>; rp-ml <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 11:54

Larry raises an interesting e-commerce point. What is the meaning of place in cyberspace? On the one hand, the ability of the artist to reach a wider audience than his/her local village is enhanced. On the other hand, as Larry points out, unless someone is able to search in some clever way for just that villager's art, the small local artist will still be missed.

I think it may raise importance of the artist being even more sensitive to the physical and social world in that artist's environment. To the extent that the local environment is unique, it may imbue the artist's work with something that is also unique and sought after. If the artist exists only in a virtual environment, then the resulting art work may appeal to those virtual afficionados.

Brock Hinzmann


Rees to Hinzmann and List, copy to Pollack and Burns


From: michael rees <zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net>
To: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>; rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Cc: steve <steve (at) familyjeweler (dot) com>; Marshall Burns <Marshall (at) Ennex (dot) com>
Subject: Re: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 13:48

Brock Hinzmann wrote:
>
> Art may be what the experts say it is, unfortunately, but an artist may
> also be what he or she says she is.

This is indeed true. You cannot wait for the establishment to get around your work and claim it art. If you waited for that kind of accolade, I'm afraid you'll wait your whole life. The issue here is also about value. Why will you buy a work by one artist or another. If it only costs what you can afford and you like it, then you'll probably just buy it. You wouldn't worry about its resale value. You will probably believe that this person is indeed an artist because it supplies for you a feeling of art.

If on the other hand you are a collector, you would probably work with some people that you trust and get there advice on works you're interested in. You will weigh the pros and cons of how much you like it, how much it fits your collection, whether it has lasting value (thats a nebulous one), whether you can resell it, whether other like minded collectors are interested in it, who's written about it, what shows has the artist been in etc.,. To this person whether a person says they are an artist or not has very little clout. What other people say will carry more weight. These other people are the experts.

This latter definition causes a lot of pain and frustration int he world. Many artists make art that is so lovely and brings such positive value to the world. The collector may never buy this and the experts are scornful of it. That was way in some of my earlier emails I stressed language. Language is communal. Art is also communal. It must be shared and affirmed across groups of people.

best,
--
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00 (at) sound (dot) net
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax


Pollack to Hinzmann, copy to Blasch and List


From: Steven <themissinglink (at) eznetinc (dot) com>
To: Brock Hinzmann <bhinzmann (at) sric.sri (dot) com>
Cc: lblasch <lblasch@opw-fc.com> rp-ml <rp-ml@bart.lpt.fi>
Subject: Re: CHECK THIS OUT!
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 1999 14:00

This is getting far afield of RP but since no one is complaining....:) On the other hand marketability of RP through cyberspace is on topic. The problem with the internet global village has always been what you just described. Access to 60 million new customers but lost within 100 million web pages. The search directories are as if the phone company printed a single large global phone book. Not so valuable.

So there are malls, artist co-ops, local villages, to pool together similiar content. I just developed a regional website at http://www.chicagonorthshore.com I hope to charge rent to my fellow merchants. I made my own website at http://www.familyjeweler.com and I started helping my retail neighbors by setting them up also. When they got real excited about selling to 60 million new customers, I thought to myself, good luck getting found. That is how I came up with the idea for chicagonorthshore.com. By creating a valuable local information resource, I will enhance their ability to be found by local consumers.

Then I started to realize that I could also make $100/hour designing websites also. I designed http://www.familyjeweler.com/madeleine.shtml , a six page website in about 4 hours. Easily worth $500.

Thats better money than I am making doing one of a kind pieces of jewelry with my own retail store, and an extensive inventory. Go figure.

Steve