For many of us, the friendships that we forge in college are often relationships that will last a lifetime. Going to college is stressful enough on its own, but when you’re away from your home and your family, usually for the first time, the lack of a support system is an added source of stress. In order to successfully navigate the experience, forming new friendships in college is vitally important. New friends can help us cope with the rigors of fending for yourself while keeping on top of classwork and projects, and they also expose us to people from new cities, from different racial and economic backgrounds with different life experiences. Not only do they become our new support system, but they open us up to the wider world around us.
Nicholas and Alina met each other in college, and they became friends pretty quickly. While they were both pursuing very different fields of study, chemical engineering for him and culinary sciences for her, they quickly bonded over music, food, technology and the joy of walking through history and art museums. After they both left school this year, the pair wanted to find a way to keep themselves connected despite no longer going to school together, and to continue to learn about each other in the process. Because they are both photography enthusiasts, they decided to use a pair of 3D printed foxes named Jane and John to frame their adventures and experiences.
“Alina and I both attended the University of Pennsylvania and we wanted to work on a project together as a way for us to be connected after graduation. We started @2GreenFoxes to bring 3D printing technology into everyday culture and into the digital arts scene. We wanted to explore the intersection between modern materials science and digital photography through a medium that appeals to our generation in a very tangible manner, namely Instagram. @2GreenFoxes is an attempt to humanize thermoplastic figurines and bring 3D printing to life,” Nicholas explained to me via email.
Nicholas was always fond of foxes, so when he found a model for a low-poly fox on Thingiverse he couldn’t resist 3D printing it out using his Printrbot. He named his new green fox John, but Nicholas quickly discovered that he looked a little lonely when he was photographed. So along came Jane, a voronoi-style fox that he printed in a slightly different shade of green PLA. The pair of green foxes seemed to represent Nicholas and Alina’s friendship, they were both very similar, yet at the same time very different. So the foxes became the perfect subjects for the photographs of each of their travels that Nicholas and Alina would be documenting together on Instagram.
Because Nicholas and Alina are both in different parts of California, the @2GreenFoxes project does require a bit of what Nicholas calls ‘logistical choreography’. They try to coordinate their travel plans and meet beforehand in order to pass the foxes on. While one of them is travelling and photographing John and Jane, the other is updating Instagram with their latest images. Since they started @2GreenFoxes about five weeks ago, John and Jane have visited 6 cities: Philadelphia, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Palo Alto, San Diego, and Santa Cruz. The goal is to document their travels and take unique pictures of the foxes that will tell a story about each city that they visited. The foxes can be seen visiting beaches, coffee shops, parks, gardens and even buying a new pair of shoes, often attracting a lot of attention along the way.
“We get a lot of people come up to us and ask us what we’re doing, or why we’re on the floor positioning two plastic figurines and taking pictures of them. We’re always happy to talk about the intersection between digital art and novel materials science technologies! I’ve also gotten people to help out with the photos by holding Jane and John up in the air, or throwing them to make them appear as if they’re hovering,” Nicholas told me.
Life it seems will be taking Nicholas and Alina in two different directions. In the fall Nicholas will be returning to the University of Pennsylvania where he will be pursuing his master’s degree in materials science & nanotechnology. He will also continue to work with the music tech education nonprofit that he founded called Mixathon48. Meanwhile, Alina has now graduated from University of Pennsylvania and co-founded Nomsense Bakery, a wholesale and catering bakery specializing in uniquely handcrafted cookie sandwiches. But wherever life takes Nicholas and Alina, they will always share the connection of two green 3D printed foxes named Jane and John. What do you think of this 3D printing idea? Discuss further in the 3D Printed Foxes forum over at 3DPB.com.