m2mWhile 3D printing and other forms of digital manufacturing are frequently described as the center of the next industrial revolution, the technology is also changing the shape of a very different field – perhaps more quietly and slowly, but just as surely. While painting, drawing and traditional sculpture will never disappear from the art world, an entirely new niche is unfolding – that of digital design and creation. An increasing number of art exhibits dedicated to 3D printing have arisen over the last few years, and artists working in the 3D medium are beginning to gain the same kind of respect and acknowledgement as those practicing more traditional methods of creation.

Eight of those artists will be showing their work in an upcoming exhibition at Northern Arizona University. Taking place from April 19 to June 10, Mind 2 Machine 2 Material: Digital Technology and Sculpture Today will be the first exhibition at the new NAU Art Museum, and the first in Northern Arizona to be dedicated to digital technology – in particular, 3D printing – in fine art.

“3-D printing is more than just technology, it has more to do with not being bound by any particular practice or even traditional art methods,” said David Van Ness, coordinator of New Media at NAU. “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”

Exhibiting artists include several familiar names:

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“Periode de Clownisme,” Sophie Kahn

In addition to being centered on digital art, Mind 2 Machine 2 Material also focuses on the themes of science, nature and sustainability. The exhibition will include 3D printing demonstrations, gallery talks and videos of the artists at work.

“Our exhibits enrich the historic and cultural awareness of our students in many disciplines,” said Dr. George Speer, director of the NAU Art Museum. “Given the centrality of computers and virtual media in their lives, the 3-D show is a natural fit.”

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Data visualizations from Mary Bates Neubauer

Mind 2 Machine 2 Material is a microcosm of the world of digital art, a perfect introduction for anyone unfamiliar with this growing genre. The sheer variety of the works on display illustrates the fact that this is a discipline with as much depth and creative potential as any other, more traditional visual art form. “Digital art” is almost a misleading term, as it implies images on a screen, but this exhibition shows that while digitally-based technologies may have been used as tools for creation, the art itself is solid and tangible. According to an event notice from NAU:

“Sculptures in the show range from small to large, light as thread to heavy as bronze, ghost-like human forms created from “glitched” movements, dreamy colorful swirls, thick books with pages of face sculptures, antler-clad beings, curious creatures, and birds with wings that flap when you approach.”

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? The exhibit’s opening reception will take place from 5-7 PM on April 21. Discuss in the 3D Printed Art forum over at 3DPB.com.

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