Full Paper. Session: Humans and NonHumans / Ecology of Natural and Technical Systems
Keywords: Digital, Clay, Movement, Innovation, Sculpture
By holding on to the idea of ‘origin’, understood in my research as hand-printing clay, I aim to rethink our interactions with technology and automated making. During the past three years, I have been exploring the relationship between hand-coiling clay and 3D printing. Hand-printing uses hand-extruded clay that, with skill, creates long hanging ropes that are pressed together. The movement is highly laboured and repetitive. It is this difference in the physical making experience, against the digital one that this research explores.
The ethical development of these technological parameters is paramount, as our entire made environment is created through interactions with computers. The stakes are environmental, geological, and political. As computers connect with making machines it is important to address issues within the automated future we are facing and have begun to live with (Bennett 2010, Vallgårda, A. 2009, Ingold, etal).
Examples include robotics and advanced manufacturing tools that rely on top-down desk-based instructions generated by a select few. This clay-first perspective on making seeks to realise a deeper understanding of the materials and processes involved in our daily lives and to describe the hybrid materiality we are part of. This approach is made possible by working with computer programmers to create disruptive innovations that affect the framework of how our fabricated environment is designed. In so doing, it is possible to ‘3D print in reverse’, allowing the digital to be touched.
In this article I describe how 3DP clay has served as a learning tool and conduit for a new digital expansion in my practice. I describe a way of making digital sculpture that directly originates from an experienced physical place through the blended interaction with clay and new technologies. The projects that I will describe are based at Grymsdyke Farm, the European Ceramics Work Centre (EKWC) and my home studio, expressing this hybridity in the form of hand-printed clay, digital models, robotically printed and 3DP clay and ceramics
- Theo Harper is an artist and researcher based in Northumberland, UK. His practice spans site-specific installation, sculpture, video, and photography. Clay always at the centre; Theo interrogates material and processes, intuitively inventing ways to release expressive making narratives. It is a constant inquiry: Born out of repetitive, time consuming and layered techniques. Theo believes that; by mastering different making systems, it is possible to break apart pre-existing realities. Theo studied Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. He has shown work nationally and internationally and taken part in various residencies. Alongside gallery-based exhibitions he has organized various projects that include a permanent installation in a terraced house, London (2013-16), a cliff polishing in Cornwall (2014) and more recently taken part in a three-month residency at EKWC in the Netherlands. Theo has been working on a AHRC funded PhD that he has completed in April 2022 titled A Hybrid Material; re-thinking computer aided design through hand-printing-clay https://www.instagram.com/theoharperd