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Artist in Residence Launches at York Mediale

We're delighted to have had the opportunity to be involved in York Mediale. This brand new and exciting media arts festival has given us the chance to work collaboratively with the internationally renowned artist, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez on a specially commissioned sculpture.

Matthew’s work combines creativity and digital technology to produce a range of work from sculpture and installations to software and online interventions. He’s had works shown in Somerset House and the Pompidou Centre, so we were very excited to have him work with us as our first Artist in Residence. 3D printing lends itself perfectly to Matthew's work and hearing his ideas was an inspiration, taking our collective experience of 3D printing into dynamic new places.

After several meetings with Matthew, we explored different ideas and inspirations for his designs that used open source software to generate repeating shapes. Ideas evolved taking playful and unexpected routes including the idea of using repeated heads. We tested several ideas and explored the various capabilities of 3D printing, but eventually Matthew decided on using modules of a house, in a repeated pattern.

This initial design evolved into ‘Token Homes’, a playful and thought-provoking statement about the growing housing crisis, one of the most potent issues for a generation. In our rapidly expanding towns and cities, the social housing shortfall is fuelling property investment schemes, leading to architecture that is devoid of aesthetic value and offers restricted, ever shrinking room for living. Rabbit-hutch Britain, indeed. To ensure the sculpture would be relevant and engaging for its audience at the Mediale, a survey was set up asking the public to share their ideas of things that could be incorporated into the design.

To realise Matthew’s ‘Token Homes’, we chose our Fortus 900mc FDM printer. This machine is ideal for printing large, but also renders detail well. Proportionally, the sculpture is 2.5m tall and narrow, similar to a totem pole and is made up of 15 individual prints. There were various elements of the design that were adapted to ensure we could produce the piece on time and on budget, one example being the roof overhangs of each individual house in the repeating pattern which became chamfers in order to reduce the quantity of support material.

ASA was chosen as the print medium, due to its better performance in UV light – an important consideration with an outdoor sculpture. In total, the sculpture took 370 hours to print. Deciding on the right way to join the pieces together was made far easier using our Magics software, enabling us to opt for lap joints as opposed to pins or straight cuts.

Once the print was complete, our sister company, Stage One, assisted in the final finishing stages. The ideas for finish evolved throughout the process – one idea being for the piece to incorporate several colours in a gradient wash. Inspired by an appreciation of the solid black print material, Matthew decided upon a blue-green iridescent sheen, which when sprayed over the black, gave the sculpture real depth, highlighting the intricacies of the print in different lighting.

Edwin Stokes, our Materials Specialist, was heavily involved in the early stages of the Artist in Residence programme, ‘It has been inspiring to work with Matthew through York Mediale’s Artist in Residence programme. The collaboration has pushed us to explore new ways to use our technology to realise creative art. It is great to see Matthew’s sculpture finally realised and installed in York.’

Don't miss the sculpture in Kings Square, York from 27th September – 6th October. Read more on our project page.