I attended two conferences recently: Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo at Javits Center in NYC and Worlds of Wonder Conference on the Queerness of Childhood at Williams College. 3D printing, gender theory and child development are all informing my artistic practice right now, so it was a blessing to listen to people who have devoted their lives to these fields speak their knowledge. I'll do a brief overview of both conferences and give a little info on how one might make their own 3D print.
On Tr3s Dee-z Nuts Printing
So, 3D printing, for those who don't know is sorta sparking a manufacturing revolution, whereby consumer products can be produced a lower economic and ecological impact. Furthermore, they provide the ability for consumers to produce goods for themselves at home. With a desktop 3D printer you can 3D scan an existing good with a 3D scanner, 3D scanning phone app or Wii game console, or download or draw your own CAD design and print out what you need. IE you're out of clean forks...no need to do dishes, you can just print up another one, and, while your at it, you can update the open source fork design you downloaded to make each fork tine a tiny phallus.
Obviously this holds huge potential for artists. Whereas the process of casting and molding can take weeks and requires a costly collection of tools and materials, 3D printing allows artists to quickly reproduce existing objects or create new ones from home or via mail-in service such as Shapeways, iMaterialize or Sculpteo. Some notable artists who have been exploring the possibilities include Frank Stella, fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, hat designers Elvis Pompilio and my favorite Heidi Lee, and YBA Marc Quinn- famous for his sculptures of Kate Moss and frozen sculptures of his head in his own blood. Here's a little interview with him: http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2013/01/29/marc-quinn-on-3-d-printing-kate-moss-and-cultural-hallucination/?mod=WSJBlog
3D printing is usually done in a variety of plastics with a range of colors and opacities. 3D printing is also available in ceramics, industrial and precious metals, human cells (to create organs) and chocolate. Unlike CSS, which carves from an existing piece of material, 3D printing actually prints the materials as an Epson would ink.
The coolest part of the conference, aside from speaking to Joris Debo of MGX by Materialize, was seeing a 3D printer that could create full color 3D objects using ink and standard copier paper, pictured below. I was told that these paper 3D prints have the lowest ecological impact.
Big thanks to my surrogate aunt Tonya Forrest for tuning me in to 3D printing and telling me to "Go print something, anything, even start with your name." Thank job my elders are hipper than I am.
On the Queerness of Chilluns
Thanks to organizer Anna Fishzon, best history of fashion professor ever, for allowing me to attend. The highlight of the event was seeing her really get down, ready to pop at 8 months pregnant, to the musical stylings of Rocco Katastrophe (Rocco and I later bonded over our toxic and codependent relationship with social media, and our healthy relationship with our non-media socializing partners.)
It was a great conference. I learned a lot about various approaches to child development and how one might rear a queer child, the word queer being used within the full capacity of its etymological roots. I work a lot with kids age 3-8 and have encountered a few gender variant children, and I have now learned that it is not OK to give them special treatment and ask their parents if I can borrow them for cross dressing play dates. This might be an inadvertent means of drawing further attention to what really shouldn't be such a big deal. Little Timmy likes to dress like a mermaid? Big deal, I like to dress like a hobo.
I was also introduced to the concept of homo-normativity. Much like hetero-normativity, it creates an image of (albeit homo) heterogeneity that excludes any and all forms of social deviancy which might include overt sexuality, flamboyant behavior or anything else outside the norm. One might see examples of homo-normativity in childrens' books about gay parenting, young adult fiction about queerness or advertisements that feature homosexual couples to sell products or concepts.
On Making a Tr3s Dee-z Nuts Print
I'm not really that technology savvy, but I found a way and I'll tell you how. I found a free online CAD program for small children (not really, but pretty much), in my case it was Tinkercad, but they just decided to go out of business so here is a list of alternatives: http://blog.makezine.com/2013/03/28/free-alternatives-to-tinkercad/
I made a little design:
I chose from one of the affiliated 3D printing services (I chose Sculpteo and Shapeways...big ups to my girl Nora at Sculpteo). Chose the size and materials...originally it was 6 feet in solid gold, but I had to rethink based solely on the ecological impact of such a resource intensive project and settled on a more modestly sized resin model (I've got a ceramic one in the pipes). Then I paid just slightly too much money and received my little friend in the mail after a few weeks:
Questions? Comments. Concerns!? Shoot...just not with a 3D printed gun.