3-D printers are typically used to create models of futuristic objects that a designer wants to bring into the world, but Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Schipper is using the far-out fabrication technology to create an existential sense of dread. His latest project, called Detritus, is a gloomy installation where a custom-built, room-sized 3-D printer crafts a miniature world in decay. Set in a reclaimed boiler room turned gallery space, the robot is suspended from the 40-foot ceilings and deposits a specially formulated saline paste onto a 12 ton desert of salt, and is programmed to build a desolate landscape filled with ruined buildings, trashed tires, and discarded objects.
In a Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burns twist, patrons watch the grim tableau take shape from the comfy confines of a hot tub. Over the course of a soak, the robotic print head traverses the room constructing the tiny city before their eyes, but once the show is over soaked spectators exit the tub and are forced to walk over the landscape, destroying it like gallery-going Godzillas.
The work was partially inspired by a geology lecture Schipper attended where the speaker described a theoretical film shot at the rate of one frame per year. Viewers would see mountains and oceans move, but depending on the time of year, might not see a single person or even leaves on trees. The only evidence of human existence would be the things we’ve built and left behind, but even the tallest skyscrapers and expansive dams would appear to rise and fall in mere seconds. “I have always had a fondness for post-apocalyptic ideas,” says Schipper. “We spend so much time forcing the planet to confirm to our will that the idea that one day it could be free of your yoke is to me a very appealing one.” Detritus is a fast-forwarded vision of what the world might look like without us. Schipper isn’t hoping for a catastrophic meteor strike to make his vision a reality, just to foster a bit more sympathy for the planet’s less dominant inhabitants…
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!