May 31, 2013 — September 8, 2013
In the Small Gallery

Opening Reception
Friday, May 31, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
The opening will also feature The Tool at Hand, in the Large Gallery, The Ornamental Plumb Bob in the Artist Hall,as well as open studios by HCCC’s current resident artists from 6:00 – 7:00 PM.
Beer sponsored by Karbach Brewing Co.

Recent economic reports speculate that a third industrial revolution, shaped by digital technologies, is underway. This summer, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) investigates the implications of such technologies on the making of sculptural and functional objects in the 21st century.  Ctrl + P, on view May 31 – September 8, in the small gallery, features work by several contemporary artists who use open-source programs and 3D printers to conceptualize and create in revolutionary ways.

Using digital technology as a tool to create is not new to all artists, but only in recent years have open-source programs, computer-aided design programs and 3D printers become more available and affordable to the average maker.  HCCC Curator, Anna Walker, is eager to present work that shows the potential of using such technologies.  Walker explains, “By sourcing their designs from online creative commons, the artists featured in Ctrl + P question issues of shared authorship, decentralization of labor, and the possibility of making entire industries available to the individual. Given that the late 20th century, in many ways, emphasized and celebrated the role of the individual maker, Ctrl + P explores how these technologies will contribute to the widespread embrace of communal authorship in the future.”

Created in 2007 by Erin Gardner and Margaret Drinkwater, The Opulent Project is a collective of metal and jewelry artists working in Portland, Oregon.  For their Digital Ring project, the collective created contemporary jewelry from found digital designs.  First collecting existing ring designs from a Google 3D warehouse, the artists altered the files to make the jewelry functional and, using the 3D printer, produced wearable rings made from gold-plated stainless steel and silver.  The end products, looking like playful imitations of traditional gemstone rings, cleverly raise questions about commercial jewelry and luxury objects.

For Ctrl + P, ceramic artists Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler revisited a previous collaboration, Mapping Authorship, which was exhibited at the 2012 NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) Conference in Seattle, Washington.  For the re-imagined project at HCCC, the artists selected several virtual objects to be printed by Shapeways (a 3D-printing marketplace and online community).  Working in different parts of the country, each artist interacted with the virtual objects in different ways—Czibesz used digital manipulation and 3D printing, while Spangler created ceramic versions of the forms by hand.  The resulting works include a combination of digital renderings, 3D printed objects and handmade ceramic works that comment on the endless possibilities available to artists who use such an approach to creating.

In order to create a 3D object, one must first plot points onto the infinite space of an XYZ axis.  Ceramic artist Stacy Jo Scott equates this process to mapping a system onto the unknown.  Using the stars and vastness of outer space as her inspiration, Scott has gathered data from the open-source planetarium software, Stellarium, to create 3D interpretations of constellations. Currently in the design stage, the project will realize her poetic vision, which is to manifest in material form that which is virtual and ideal, as it draws a direct link between digital space and outer space.

First conceived in Lubbock, Texas, in 2007, The Ryder Jon Piotrs Nomadic Gallery was developed by Ryder Richards, Jonathan Whitfill, and Piotr Chizinski as a community outreach effort and alternative form of arts presentation. With an open-source platform, the artists created the RJP 2.0 Gallery Kit, which includes downloadable designs of gallery infrastructure—walls, fixtures and more—so that individuals can convert any Ryder rental truck into a moving gallery space.  Ctrl + P features a built version of this structure.

As an educational component of the exhibition, HCCC will host a working FDM-based (Fusion Deposition Modeling) 3D printer on loan from TX/RX Labs, a nonprofit hackerspace in Houston. The printer will continuously print plastic manifestations of digital creations during viewing hours.  This is the first of many 3D printers that TX/RX Labs is creating and donating to schools in the Houston area as part of its SchoolBOT project, which seeks to increase science and technology interest among children and adults.  For more information about the printer, its underlying technology, and TX/RX’s nonprofit mission, visit www.txrxlabs.org/schoolbot.

About 3D Printers & Creative Commons

The 3D printers used by artists in this exhibition work similarly to desktop printers. An artist creates a digital file of an object and then prints it. However, instead of adding ink to paper, the 3D printer adds very small layers of materials, such as plastic, metal or clay, line by line, to build an object. For the purposes of this exhibition, the 3D printers employed by the artists are the more common and accessible desktop printers and not the more advanced versions used for industry.

Creative commons are online resources that exist for individuals to share their designs. These spaces of shared authorship decentralize labor, allow multiple authors to work on a single design, and can potentially make entire industries available to the individual. The artists in Ctrl + P embrace the ethos that shared authorship is of great benefit to the creative process.

(1) Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler, “Aerial: Remarks on the History of Things.” Porcelain, glaze, overglaze. 2011-2012. Photo by Czibesz and Spangler. (2) Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler, “Mapping Authorship.” Digital video and rendering stills. 2012. Photo by Czibesz and Spangler. (3) Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler, “Precis: A Mute Declaration.” Porcelain, earthenware, SLS and FDM printed plastic, engineered wood, steel, vinyl. 2012. Photo by Czibesz and Spangler. (4) Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler, “Tectonics and Dross: Remarks on the Future Archaeology of Objects.” Porcelain, CNC-cut urethane foam, acrylic, stainless steel. 2013. Photo by Czibesz and Spangler. (5) Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler, “Tectonics and Dross: Remarks on the Future Archaeology of Objects.” Digital rendering. 2013. Photo by Czibesz and Spangler. (6) The Opulent Project, “Digital Rendering of Digital Ring Model.” Digital rendering of virtual model. Open source image via Google. (7) The Opulent Project, “Silver Digital Ring.” 3D printed wax cast in sterling silver. Photo by Richard Gehrke. (8) The Opulent Project, Digital Ring. 3D printed stainless steel, gold-plated. Photo by Richard Gehrke.