[quote]“The purpose of looking at the future is to disturb the present.[/quote]
Burlesque dancer (and former Mrs. Marilyn Manson) Dita Von Teese recently wore a 3D printed dress. The dress, made of 3,000 individual parts, took 3 months to make and was designed on an iPad by architect Francis Bitonti and designer Michael Schmidt specifically for her body. The “goal was to create classical beauty using a modern technique.” It’s a futuristic techno-body, reimagined.
3D printing has been happening for years, mostly for prototyping, but is now making its way into the mainstream. How does it work? Instead of printing with traditional paper and ink, thin layers of a material (plastic, metal, glass, etc.) are released until an object is formed. (Still confused? Read this or watch this.)
In Walter Benjamin’s classic essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” he argues that mechanical reproduction puts authenticity into question. In reference specifically to art, he contends that “that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.” But does 3D printing reverse this? By transforming mass production into a uniquely customizable process, does each 3D printed object become an authentic work of art in itself?
The Economist explains that 3D printing could mean that “success in manufacturing will depend less on scale and more on the quality of ideas,” making it easier to make your own copies -- but also bringing up intellectual property and copyright issues. In an open source world, who deserves credit?
3D printing revolutionizes manufacturing -- creating a shift from mass production to custom “rapid manufacturing” -- and has the power to radically democratize fashion and self-presentation, as the consumer becomes designer, maker, tailor, and model. This 3D world may still seem years away from becoming a reality for the everyday person, but as French futurist Gaston Berger says, simply looking toward the future disrupts the present -- so you may be printing your own wardrobe sooner than you think.
Here are some tips to help you begin your 3D life:
Ready to take the 3D plunge? Consider buying a MakerBot printer. MakerBot is a Brooklyn-based company committed to making desktop 3D printing accessible to the masses. If you’re in the New York area, check out their retail store and see 3D printing in action, attend a workshop or class, or buy a friend a 3D gift.
Feeling old school, but still want in on the 3D action? Get a pair of Oakley’s GasCan glasses, the first optically correct 3D glasses, or mix traditional craft with futuristic technology and slip on some tapestry glasses (pictured at top): 3D printed glasses with customizable embroidery within the frames.
What would you most like to create and customize with 3D printing? Tell us about it in the comments below!