Carrie Ida Edinger
The context of the Art2Make exhibition at the College Art Association (CAA) 102nd Annual Conference was intended to initiate an expanded dialogue concerning digital technologies and the social media relationships between artists and audiences. I saw the Art2Make exhibition of sculptural objects that were generated with 3-D extrusion printers, then I gained more insight into the 3-D printing medium by listening to the accompanying New Media Caucus 3-D Printing Panel and Roundtable Discussion. Art2Make was organized around two sites of presentation. The first is the physical gallery exhibit at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College, and the second is an Internet-based presence on the v1b3 website. The v1b3 website presents curatorial and creative research projects that focus on experiencing media artworks in various locations.  I will contribute to the conversation from the Art2 -Make exhibit by examining the modes of digital media and contemporary art within the two presentation sites (the gallery and the Internet).
In viewing the exhibition for the first time, I was intrigued by how the aspects of the digital medium, for example the digital files and 3-D printing process, lead to a bridge of interdisciplinary concepts between printmaking and sculpture. On a subsequent visit, while observing the 3-D printed objects in the Art2Make exhibition and listening to the first half of the 3-D printing roundtable panel discussion, I thought about the relationships of these specific digital methods to the printmaking discipline. A basic print concept I considered is the creation of a matrix, which aids in the ability to generate some form of multiples. Panelists described how the 3-D digital modeling software enabled them to generate a “matrix,” or digital file, to print multiples of a particular sculptural form. These digital files have been internationally distributed and printed at site-specific locations. The process of digital distribution with the Internet has ties to the historical roles of printmaking as a democratic voice. This form of public access is acknowledged in the Art2Make exhibition’s Internet presence.
Meredith Hoy’s corresponding exhibition text, “Digital Materiality: Expanding Sculpture Through 3-D Printing,” locates the Art2Make 3-D printed objects within the sculptural discipline. Hoy references the work of individual artists, such as Sol LeWitt’s sculptural piece Incomplete Open Cubes (1974) and Felix Gonzales-Torres’s work knows as Candy Spills (1991), to indicate the conceptual sculptural approaches of using algorithmic processes toward construction and the components of social interaction.  While both of these artists have a connection to producing multiples within their work, I identified a broader art theory from some of my current research in presenting my own web-based artwork.
Art historian and critic Lucy Lippard’s theory of the dematerialization of the art object follows suit within the time period of LeWitt and Gonzales-Torres’s artwork. There are approaches from Lippard’s theory that can be applied to the Art2Make physical exhibition, while emerging contemporary aesthetics of the digital platform within contemporary art are still being formed.  The Art2Make physical exhibition demonstrates Lippard’s conceptual art terms, for example process or systems art, information art, and the de-commodification of art.  While the gallery space does display the 3-D printed objects, the wall space presents information by means of text and QR Codes for viewers to employ their digital devices to have open access to the digital files of each of the artist’s 3-D objects.
The variables between the fine art disciplines, the Internet as a platform of presentation, and the social interaction between the viewer and the digital files can be investigated with the concept of social exchange that is generated from the exhibition’s gallery presence. I wanted to understand how these variables were being documented and if an archive system would keep track of the number of downloadable digital files and the number of objects that were actually printed. In my email correspondence with the Art2Make curatorial team, I was informed that a conscious effort of tracking the individual downloads was in the beginning stages. In addition, the Art2Make exhibition has a traveling schedule that offers other opportunities for public access beyond the CAA conference.
The roundtable panel discussion was part of my second visit to the exhibition. The additional information concerning the process of 3-D printing brought my focus to the concept of social interaction between the viewer of the exhibit and the digital files. Hoy’s exhibition essay extends the idea of social interaction or democratic voice from the digital files to a current non-art world object, Cody Wilson’s 3-D printed gun named the Liberator. She does reference the rhetoric of gift-giving, along with the social and political implications of free exchange to the instructions of the 3-D printed objects.  This type of social implication with the Internet or digital files enables the printed objects to exist beyond the physical gallery space. Taking into consideration that the Art2Make exhibition has an ending date, the artists’ digital instructions are maintained on the website for continual public access. The variables I mentioned earlier now have a role in a postmodern use of the instructions and the 3-D printed objects.
Miwon Kwon has investigated Lippard’s broad theory of the dematerialization of art by considering the side of social exchange where the participants refuse the gift giving or interactive process. She uses Felix Gonzalez-Torre’s retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum (1995) as an example. She focuses on specific artworks, such as the paper stacks and candy piles, that not only allow the visitors to touch them, but invite the viewers to take the paper and candy away. She describes the museum visitors as happily gathering pieces of candy and collecting sheets of paper, then she notes her astonishment at the sight of garbage cans in the lobby and just outside of the museum overflowing with Gonzalez-Torre’s sheets of paper. Kwon describes from this experience the devaluation of the artist’s gift and the participants’ assertion of their superior positions.  In Kwon’s example, actual physical objects were being “given away” in a gallery space. The future documentation of public access to the digital files and even the count of the 3-D printed objects from Art2Make will make a contribution to understanding the role of digital media as it connects to the social interaction arrangement from the physical exhibition.
I am unable to include my social media relationship of the Art2Make project beyond my viewing with the information on the v1b3 website because I currently do not have access to the specific software needed or to a 3-D printer. My current research on community libraries and their development to offer various digital media sources for public access could change my future accessibility to the digital files. Of course, timing is one main factor in considering accessibility to 3-D printing and forming the media arts historical background. My experience from the Art2Make exhibition and 3-D Printing Panel is a contribution to theory and practice that is intended to continue the conversation with the developments of digital media.
1. “Art2 Make Project,” on v1b3 official website, February 2014, http://v1b3.com/ (accessed February 12, 2014).
2. Meredith Hoy, “Digital Materiality: Expanding Sculpture Through 3D Printing, on v1b3 official website, February 2014, accessed February 12, 2014, http://v1b3.com/projects/art2make/meredith-hoy/
3. Olga Goriunova, Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2012), 1- 2.
4. Lucy R. Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), vii – xxii.
5. Meredith Hoy, “Digital Materiality: Expanding Sculpture Through 3D Printing.”
6. Miwon Kwon, “Exchange Rate: On Obligation and Reciprocity in Some Art of the 1960s and After,” in Work Ethic, ed. Helen Molesworth (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003), 90- 93.
Carrie Ida Edinger is an artist whose current Internet-based collection project is formed and defined by material culture methodologies and visual documentation in a form of media, such as print media objects or video. In June 2013, the collection project was included as a web-based artwork in the Currents 2013 Santa Fe International New Media Festival. In addition her professional experience ranges from recently published writings to presentations of research. In 2013, she gave an illustrated talk relating to her Print Media Coupon as Artifact essay at the Impact8 International Print Conference hosted in Dundee, Scotland. Edinger currently resides in Newark, Delaware, and maintains a blog documenting her investigations with art-based research: www.carrieidaedinger.blogspot.com