Monday, 8 July 2013

Charon: Sterling Crispin and 3D Printing

Charon, by Santa Barbara-based artist Sterling Crispin, is a 3D printed sculpture based on a flightpath performance involving an autonomous quadrocopter (and sensor tracking) and human interaction.

In the past, the concept - and thus the performance as enactment of that - has always stood as the most important part of a piece like Charon. The visible, documented (video) activity of Crispin interacting with the flying drone does very well to illustrate the tension between human and robotic agency as a means of making sense of the world. This theme constitutes the subject of much of Crispin's interesting work; throughout his practice, ideas of techno/life-forces, spirituality, entropy and virtual reality are explored, often by paralleling the human and the robotic (as in Charon). However, the possibility to make a material object out of this flightpath - as a 'shadow of this boundary crossing' (Crispin) - has been realised through the process of 3D printing. I'm really excited about how this technology can allow for a new kind of materiality - which is often simply a means of making data visible and three dimensional. Again, this work follows a developing tradition within 3D printed art of utilising organic forms within a technological context. I think the resulting sculpture stands as a beautiful art object that manages to bring the immaterial, spirit-like quality of Crispin's work into physicality. And there's certainly something rather magical about that.

Quadcopter, motion capture system, OpenGL simulation, 3D print, flat screen television