Martin Binder

There’s just something about 3D printed art, regardless if people agree on whether or not it actually counts as art, that always opens up the most amazing sense of wonder in me, from the tallest sculptures to some of the smallest, most powerful, and strangest pieces I’ve ever laid eyes on. Many 3D artists are inspired by the natural world around them, and create artwork that is reminiscent of the living beings found outside.

German artist Martin Binder is one of these artists, and was inspired by the birch tree for his latest installation, titled “Portrait of a birch.” I personally find birch trees lovely, with their white bark and delicate leaves, so I completely understand Binder’s inspiration. Some of his other, non-3D printed pieces have also been inspired by birch trees.

Binder, who stays abroad in Canada, Finland, India, Italy, and Russia, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in product and graphic design from the Free University of Bolzano in Italy and is part of the Office for Art in Public Spaces Berlin.

“Portrait of a birch” is a four-meter long sculpture, created with a wood-plastic composite material; the wood in the filament is actually birch wood, adding to its lifelike quality.

In my opinion, the piece is absolutely amazing, not only due to how closely it resembles a real birch tree branch, but also in that Binder created the whole thing by hand with a 3D printing pen, which we already know is capable of producing stunning and innovative works of art.

The 3D printed art installation is on display in the outdoor exhibition space of Berlin’s Gallery District. As the installation is located in a public area, people can visit it at any hour of the day. It took Binder more than 250 hours to complete the large-scale piece, which is hollow and weighs less than 2kg.

“I spend a lot of time on instagram, where I consume images behind a glass screen. This work is a three-dimensional equivalent to digital media consumption. A fragment of a tree can be visually experienced behind the glass walls of the unconventional exhibition space,” Binder explained.

The 3D printed piece of art bears a striking similarity to a real birch tree, especially from far away, and has broken branches and imperfections just like what would be found in nature. Binder spent a long time studying the structure of different birch trees to make sure the sculpture would come out just right.

Binder said, “My eyes were the 3D scanner and my hands were the 3D printer.”

Visitors can get up close and personal with the piece, though only through the glass of the exhibition space. But they can easily see every line of the 3D drawing, which Binder says is supposed to “raise the questions of the natural and real, identity and originality.”

According to Binder’s website, “An oversized branch of a birch floats in the interior of the greenhouse. The work questions in a critical and poetic way the mutual reference of similarity, diversity and identity. The branch is a filigree imitation of a real birch branch, a copied fragment of a birch, consisting of a birch wood-plastic composite, which is olfactory, haptic and visually strikingly close to the original material. The work raises questions about identity and originality – what is real, what do we perceive, why do we perceive something?

“The branch creates a reality that is disconnected from its original environment, as a three-dimensional cutout of something that may no longer exist. As manipulation, correction, assertion, reproduction. Unlike its naturally established model, the three-dimensional birch branch is not subject to any seasonal changes. It has a monumental size and yet is trapped in a house, cut off from its trunk, but worn as if it were still present.”

What do you think of this 3D printed art installation? Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Source: DesignBoom / Images: Asef Oren]


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