Sep 2, 2014 | By Alec

While there will be many spectacular 3D printing creations on display at this year's 3D Printshow in London, which will be held from 4 to 6 September at the Old Billingsgate building, we can give you a sneak preview of one particularly impressive piece right now. For featuring in the 'Artist of the Year' competition is the 3D sculpting collaboration duo Pussykrew with their thought-provoking 'Materia' series.

The Pussykrew collaboration duo consists of the Polish new media artists Andrzej Wojtas (also known as Jendrek or mi$ Gogo) and Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (also known as Tikul). Though currently based in Berlin, both artists have a Digital Media Studies degree from the Culture Lab at Newcastle University and have been awarded a Digital City Fellowship from the Institute of Digital Innovation in Middlesbrough, both in the UK. For the past ten years, both artists have been using a very wide range of media – from vhs players and music videos to 3D printers – to create, as they themselves put it, 'gender-bending visual journeys, filtered through carnal data mesh, liquid apocalyptic dysphoria and 3d fantasy shuffle'.

They started working together in 2004 - and have worked under the Pussykrew moniker since 2008 – and have since then developed numerous highly artistic creations that often bring the latest visual and sonic media expressions and postmodern humanity together. They have also collaborated with a long list of artists, musicians and designers since then, such as Leila (WARP Records), HTRK (Work Tour 2011), Raime (Blackest Ever Black). Oni Ayhun, Angel Haze, Kode9, Actress, Evian Christ, James Ferraro, Kassem Mosse and Nguzunguz. Pussykrew's creations have also been regularly featured in art galleries and digital and/or sonic art conventions throughout the world in recent years, and will doubtlessly interest many visitors at this year's 3D Printshow in London.

Their 'Materia' series, which earned them a spot in the 'Artist of the Year' Competition at this year's Printshow, is their first series of 3D printed sculptures. They drew inspiration from the world-famous classical busts of emperors and generals, but interpreted those through the spirit of the post-digital human. As they clarified with their entry

[the] traditional bodily forms are deconstructed – "computer affected". Digitally processed organic structures are changed into abstract shapes, manifesting the spirit of the post-digital / post-human. Within the design process, we've used various effects and 3D simulations to achieve interesting forms that correspond with current net-art / hyper-virtual aesthetics. The project conveys a modern version of classical beauty, blurring the borders between artificial and natural, virtual and material.

These thought-provoking sculptures have been designed using cinema 4D and RealFlow liquid and collision simulations in 3D, while Netfabb 3D printing software was used to prepare their designs for 3D printing. The Ultimaker 2 3D printer was used to make their ideas reality, which printed these creations in PLA.

But of course, 3D enthusiasts reading this will have to do much more to create similar sculptures at home. As the team behind Pussykrew clarified, the post-production process of the 'Materia' series included polishing, sanding and painting. Indeed, besides their Ultimaker 2, they needed sandpaper, a mini-grinder, glue, car putty, an airbrush, plastic primer and a variety of paints to achieve their final effects. Their intention was to 'generate the sensation of 'the unreal mirage' and have an intense impact on the viewer'.

And the results are obvious. They entry has an undoubtedly sculptural sense to it that will probably remind visitors of the tangible, aestheticized qualities of traditional, hand-made sculptures. And yet the ongoing process of transformation that these faces display – the melting skin, the faces that are slowly being peeled off – are reminiscent of wild, vivid dreams. And this is what they aimed to achieve with both their design and post-production: 'In our projects, we often explore physicality, materiality issues, bodily queerness and the constant mutation between synthetic-organic structures.'

3D printing technology emerged as an almost natural conduit for the artistic pursuits of WOjtas and Aleksandrowicz. While they are, first and foremost, artists, they decided to transform their interest in computer-generated imagery and video creations into material creations 'to the point that it will be difficult to distinguish the CGI from the physical object. We strive to accent the fusion of virtual and material environment and the constant state of flux.'
To achieve that, 3D printing presented itself as a logical step. As they explained,

3D printing is the current, most accessible, affordable and adequate medium to achieve what we want. 3d printing gives us possibilities of seamless translation our screen based works into physical objects. […] The flow of our projects is quiet natural, and honestly the whole hype which surrounds 3d printing sometimes gets annoying. But maybe also because of that, the technology become economically accessible for us. We felt like this is the right time to move again into the realm of the physical world.

And while the results might not imply it, mastering 3D printing techniques proved quite difficult for the artistic duo. Achieving the right, smooth and glossy finishing that they wanted was an especially time-consuming process. As they revealed:

Making things in physical world is of course more challenging; actually 3D printing and finishing the sculptures is very time and energy consuming. It takes as much time as 3D rendering! We've learnt a lot as each new technique has some learning curve to it. In the beginning, preparation of the models was a challenge since we work with mashed based models – which are outcomes of dynamic simulation or simply deliberate glitching. But now it takes less and less time to achieve desirable effects.

And as many 3D enthusiasts have undoubtedly discovered for themselves, the guys behind Pussykrew were especially surprised by the hours 3D printers consume. It even encouraged them to create a live stream for their printing process, that can be found here.

Since starting with their 3D project, they have experimented heavily with its various artistic possibilities. Many of their creations can be found on their UFO blog, which is short for Unidentified Fabulous Objects and will doubtlessly interest anyone who wants to learn more about a possible fusion between modern art and 3D printing technology. And fortunately for enthusiasts, this entry for London's 3D Printshow will doubtlessly not be the last thing we'll hear from Pussykrew, as they let it be known that they 'just started our 3D printing adventure, we have many ideas regarding the future projects.'


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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