Mar 18, 2016 | By Alec

Fablabs (or Fab Labs), makerspaces and other forms of communal 3D printing hotspots: they’re at the very core of the 3D printing community and industry, and have provided a platform to countless of makers around the world already. As a tribute to those crucial community hubs, French voice artist Gilles Azzaro has now captured the core intentions of Fablab founder Neil Gershenfeld in an amazing 3D printing project: a 3D printed installation that is a physical representation of Gershenfeld’s voice as he gives the definition of Fablabs. The meaningful tribute has just been exhibited at the Toulouse FabLab ARTILECT, and the maker hopes it can tour the world.

Fablabs, of course, started way back as a project at the beginning of the 21rst century by Neil Gershenfeld, with the intention of showing how technology can feed grassroots development. With backing from MIT (where Gershenfeld is a professor and director of their Center for Bits and Atoms) and the National Science Foundation, that initial 2001 lab has since grown into 565 official Fablabs throughout the world, while also inspiring several non-official labs with the same principles.

Neil Gershenfeld

Those labs have been flourishing throughout the world, and this tribute actually grew out of the “Salle des Machines” expansion to the ARTILECT lab in Toulouse. For that expansion, Azzaro was asked to create a 3D printed work of art that could be unveiled during the inauguration ceremony. Incidentally, he was one of the founding members behind ARTILECT.

Gilles Azzaro, of course, is an expert voice artist (he calls himself a Sculpteur de Voix) whose work principally involves the three-dimensional materialization of voices and their audio reproduction. Using cutting edge technologies he reveals the forms of the invisible, transforming and magnifying them into truly amazing lunar-like landscapes. Azzaro previously applied his 3D printed voice specialism to a speech by President Obama, for the artwork “Barack OBAMA - Next Industrial Revolution”, which he presented at the White House on 18 June 2014. Last year, he also revealed 3D printed pendants holding a message of hope for mankind.

While those projects were stunning, this follow-up “What is Fablab?” is probably far more meaningful for Fablab users. Consisting of a 21-second recording in 3D printed plastic, it features a synchronized laser beam that scans the reliefs of the vocal print to accurately the exact location of every sound and nuance in the speech. For the recording, Gershenfeld gave his definition of Fablabs: “FabLabs are a global network of local labs that are democratizing access to digital fabrications allowing anyone to make almost anything. With the technical goal of FabLabs making FabLabs, together they are asking and answering how we will live, learn, work and play in a world where data can become things and things can become data.”

As the artist explained, the choice for Gershenfeld was an easy one to make. As a frequent beneficiary of Fablab principles, he felt a need to materialize the voice of the man who made it all possible. Fortunately, he had already met Gershenfeld at the White House, and found him very keen to contribute. In keeping with Fablab principles, the sculpture was 3D printed with the help of the Toulouse community, using a desktop 3D printer. The sculpture was huge at 180 by 16 by 16 centimeter), and weighs 5 kg.

If you’re interested in seeing the amazing installation, it will be on display at the Toulouse FABLAB FESTIVAL from 5 to 8 May 2016, after which it might go on world tour. Azzaro hopes to take it past as many Fablabs in the world, so everyone can get close to the core principles behind their community. As an ideal final resting place, Azzaro is already considering MIT. To gather funds for such a gargantuan journey, the artist is already looking at Kickstarter options. Now that would be a truly remarkable and meaningful project to support.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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