One of the ways in which we are able to gauge if a new technology, product, or idea is headed towards mainstream adoption is through its increased use within popular culture. 3D printing may not quite be considered a mainstream technology, or concept as of yet, but judging by recent popular culture uses and discussion related to the technology it certainly appears like we are very close.
One example of the use of 3D printing within popular culture, is that of a music group based in England called Feral Five. Comprised of Kat and Drew Five, the indie electronica music group, is admittedly ‘obsessed’ with science and new technologies, so much so that they will soon be releasing a 3-track 12″ single titled ‘3D’. What makes the post-punk, electro style single so unique, is not only the fact that it is based around the 3D printing of a human being, but also the fact that the key beats of the song are made up of 3D printer sounds.
“The sound of what you might soon call a ‘domestic’ 3D printer is very much like that of one of those old 1980’s dot matrix devices, only there’s a different quality to it,” explained Drew Five to 3DPrint.com. “It’s not a print head impressing paper with an idea, it’s a device extruding, moving and creating something literal. I wanted to capture that and have it as a beat on the track. It sounds so innocent and you’ve no way of deciphering just by listening to it, what it’s forming. So we sampled, a few things. We built a model in Printcraft and used the sample of a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic going about its happy business as the opening beat.”
The 3D printing of a human being certainly is not a common theme among musicians, but that’s just what makes this song, and the group itself so intriguing. It may sound incredibly far fetched to print out an entire human being, but both Kat and Drew believe that eventually such technology to do so will exist.
“3D printing is evolving so fast,” explained Kat Five to 3DPrint.com “We do think that eventually people will be 3D printing entire human beings. There are already plenty of parts being made – cells, functioning liver tissue, prosthetic eyes and ears, skeletal like structures and joints. It’s only a matter of time before people put it all together. The big question is in whose hands the technology lies, who is at the controls. Will anyone be looking at the ethics of it all, or will people be able to create their fantasy friends as they please? An artist’s job is to question, probe, and make you think, even within a song you can dance to. People shouldn’t shy away from big ideas.”
Feral Five will launch the vinyl with a 3D printing party in London on September 20th. The party is still in the planning stages, but the group promises to have lots of music and 3D printing taking place during the event. There will also be 3D printed items for people to take home. Another way in which this group is stepping outside the box, is by offering 3D printed geometric designs by tribal pop artist Camille Walala, along with each vinyl record sold. Camille Walala also is the artist who created the cover artwork.
The group explained that they wanted to be able to 3D print each record, as the technology is out there to do so, however, it has not progressed enough to be able to mass produce a high quality record as of yet.
“It would have been amazing to release the music on a 3D printed record, but the quality is not there yet, and the music must come first,” explained Kat. “We’re excited to be working with Diamond Black, the leading UK vinyl pressing plant, on the project. They showed us round and we were fascinated by the whole process.”
Regardless, the song, the idea behind it, and the way that Feral Five is going about this release, certainly does not follow conventional wisdom. Who knows, it may just become the song of our times, as 3D printing continues to make a major mark on society as a whole. As for the group and their future plans? They are considering possibly 3D printing their own guitar at some point. Let us know what you think about the new single in the forum thread for Feral Five at 3DPB.com. Below you can listen to one of the tracks.