While 3D printing may exist primarily in the realm of cool things you’ve read about on the internet, the technology is rapidly spreading, and its potential applications are far-reaching.
The scale stretches from small to vast – scientists at Princeton have just used bio-organic printing to create a working human ear, while Dutch architects are presently working on a 3D printed house. You can even use a 3D printer to create your own arsenal, with engineers in Wisconsin recently uploading the blueprints for a gun that you can make yourself at home.
If you want to see the technology in action, The Powerhouse Museum are making it happen, with an added, delicious bonus. Their event, Eat The Collection, sees a variety of architects, designers and artists replicating items from the collection – in chocolate form. “We’ve been interested in new ways of fabricating design,” program director Athalie Moedjoko tells me, “and 3D printing is pretty experimental when it comes to food, so we thought it would be great to create an event around that.”
The museum acquired a readymade 3D printer from the UK, and set about inviting creative folk to come and play with it. “In the art world, there’s quite a tradition of working with food,” Moedjoko says. “I think people in general are becoming more interested in the idea of how food is produced, and how we eat. We’ve made our event around that. There are a number of artists who work with food.” As we speak, the museum has just taken a delivery of dark Belgian chocolate for the show.
The Powerhouse have invited an array of designers from across different fields to try their hands at the technology. “We have invited about 11 designers,” Moedjeko says, “but they all have backgrounds in CAD and 3D modelling. We have quite a few architects and digital fabricators. Everything the designers have submitted is based on the collection. The designers have looked at the collection and chosen objects that inspire them, and they’ve then mashed them up or made copies or used them as springboards for design.”
“We have a great duo from Melbourne, Angela Woda and Monique Brady-Ward,” Moedjeko continues. “They both studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in Copenhagen, and they’ve put together a submission inspired by teeth, called Teeth Town. Then you have Chris Bosse, the designer who did the water cube for the Beijing Olympics. He’s done something inspired by coral, he’s done a coral chair.”
Some of the works may well be familiar to animation nerds. “There’s a design and architecture firm called AR-MA, who are real whizzes at 3D modelling and digital design,” Moedjeko tells me. “Their work is a reproduction of a teapot, which is the first complex object that was ever 3D-modelled. It’s a joke for all of the 3D modelling nerds, because this teapot has been everywhere – it’s been in every Pixar film, and it’s even been in The Simpsons.”
And now for the good stuff – the designs will be presented in roughly bite-sized 75mm Belgian chocolate cubes, and if you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to bite into one.
“We’ll have the finished objects on display,” Moedjeko says. “We haven’t worked out whether people can just chomp into them at the end of the night, but we’re planning to have a lot of the rejects out. Because it’s such an experimental technology and we’re just playing with it, there are a lot of mistakes, so we’re just going to pile all the rejects up and people can go for it!”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Late Night Lounge: Eat The Collection is happening at the Powehouse Museum on Thursday May 30.