Feb.2, 2015 | By Alec

Is there a more dignified 3D printing project than a chess set? With 32 necessary pieces, 3D printing a chess set gives you all the room in the world for creative discoveries, while together they retain an instantly recognisable purpose and function. It’s therefore no wonder that many experienced printers have tried their hand at their own set, and that a chess piece has become something of an unofficial mascot for Formlabs.

However, all of those efforts instantly pale in comparison to the work of Swedish modern artist Johan Andersson, who has recently released his first gorgeous and thought-provoking 3D printed pieces on Shapeways. As you can see in the photos below, his pieces are complex, surrealistic works of art that are even slightly difficult to recognise as rooks or queens. If anything, it shows that chess pieces aren’t simple toys, but that this age-old game is somewhat of an art form as well.

But Johan Andersson wasn’t simply trying to create some complex shapes to induce applause. Instead, his set "The Hyper Surreal Fractalic Mystical Chess Set" is something he has been designing and developing actively and passively for several years now. It also features a clear source of inspiration: "The full set is a play in 7 acts about humanity, the evolution and the quest for knowledge through enlightenment and superfluity until the day when mankind finally became the plague of the planet."

To shape this mystical purpose, Johan let himself be inspired by the works of artistic (and surrealistic) giants Max Ernsts, Marcel Duchamps and Dalí, and on the fractal geometric patterns that occur in nature – patterns that look chaotic and alien, but are in fact bound by complex mathematical equations that ensure it looks the same at any size.

All in all, it took Johan more than four years to get to a point where he can actually show off some of his 3D printed creations. As he wrote on his Deviantart page, this "is a project I have been subconsciously working on since I started exploring the cosmos of 3D fractals in 2010. I have always admired Max Ernsts, Marcel Duchamps and Dalís sets, but I wanted a set which was more true to the original idea of surrealism. With the help of 3D fractals and 3D printing I could make it a reality." As part of this process, he designed various intricate fractal shapes, like the one below.

But his design process partly took so long because Johan bound himself to a very strict design frame. As he explained, "the full set is a play in 7 acts about humanity, the evolution and the quest for knowledge through enlightenment and superfluity until the day when mankind finally became the plague of the planet." This comes back in every piece, (which has its own character and story) and yet needs to bear a surrealistic resemblance to the standard chess piece it represents.

The Rook and the artwork it has been based on.

This whole process can, for instance, be seen in the designs of the Rook and the Knight, some of the first pieces that are already finished. As he explained, the Rook (above) is based on an earlier image he made, entitled "Mysterium Cosmographicum Fractalium" (to give it its short title), while the Knight (below) is based on another piece entitled "These Mad Horses of War Spiraling into Chaos."

The knight and the artwork it has been based on.

While the set is still a very long way away from being finished, each piece will thus comes with an intricate and original story on the origins of life and the mental development and man, befitting a chess set consisting of 32 individual pieces of art. For now, only the two different Bishops (one on each side of the royal couple), the knight, the pawn, the rook and the Queen (the gorgeous piece below) are finished, and can be individually ordered through Shapeways.

Each part will be a high-quality 3D print made in either black or white nylon, and will even bear the artist’s signature on the bottom. They are relatively pricy at approximately €60 each, but that can be expected of such high-quality pieces of art. Once complete, a complete chess set will of course also be available, along with a 3D printed board that matches their complex style.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Sean wrote at 4/6/2015 12:07:41 AM:

This is the kind of chess set that would leave H.R. Lovecraft jizzing in his pantaloons. The pieces are so intricately chaotic, yet ordered, they fairly demand unique rules and a board set on a eight-dimension plane with the ability to shift through time and space, and remake not just the current game, but all other games played, before or after. It's simply...well...wow.

ewrt wrote at 2/2/2015 7:22:31 PM:

as a fan of chess, and of fancy chess sets in the windows of grenich village chess chops in new york city. this chess set belongs in a museum or in soho. it's staggeringly beautiful. frankly, playing with pieces so artistic would be a distraction. but it's a great showpiece.

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