Oct 28, 2017 | By Julia

As 3D printing affords artists around the world new opportunities for experimentation and innovation, many are discovering that the key is in the details. For up-and-coming Belgian artist and architect Cédric Van Parys, that principle applies throughout his process, from his initial inspiration to precise execution.

Van Parys’ acclaimed ‘Monuments for Progress’ project, exhibited earlier this year at the Venice Biennale, pays homage to the stunning architectures that dot the Shanghai skyline, taking them to new heights in the form of 25 tiny 3D printed models, all created to scale.

“Shanghai is like a melting pot,” Van Parys says. “It’s the only city where so many different cultures have passed, giving birth to different architectural styles. The rooftops could be temples, modern sculptures, or very futuristic structures. That intrigued me.”

‘Monuments for Progress’ is the final product of the 10 months Van Parys spent in the massive Chinese cosmopolis as a Swatch artist in residence. As part of the Swiss watch brand’s unveiling of The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in downtown Shanghai several years back, a unique artist residency program was launched, offering 18 workshops and apartments to creators from around the world. Overseen by a selection committee that includes art collectors and industry names ranging from Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault to George Clooney, the program aims to introduce the art world’s best and brightest to the thriving streets of Shanghai.

A graduate of Central Saint Martins and stage designer for Prada, Van Parys was invited to the Swatch Art Peace Hotel residency in 2016. According to the Belgian artist, most of that 10 months was spent traversing the streets of Shanghai on his scooter, and photographing skyscrapers from every angle.

“The first thing I really noticed were the weird sculptures on top of the skyscrapers; all these really strange structures”, Van Parys tells local press. “I was thinking, ‘why are they there?’” To get a closer look, the artist would often spend his days climbing to the rooftops with his camera, documenting each architectural landmark. Lucky for Van Parys, most buildings were accessible – many security guards simply didn’t know what to do with him, he laughs. Otherwise, the Belgian artist would opt to take photos out of a window, the highest one he could find. In total, Van Parys says he climbed more than 300 buildings.

Back in the studio, the photos slowly came to life, as Van Parys transformed 2D images into 3D printed models using light-cured SLA techniques. According to him, 3D printing technology was the only appropriate means of achieving details as small as 0.3mm.

The emerging ‘Monuments for Progress’ were then placed into a series of fabricated landscapes, and painted in two tones: dark blue for the landscape, and gold for the rooftops themselves. “The dark blue was related to that moment in the evening before the Shanghai gets really dark, and gold is a colour that signifies something valuable and royal, which is much beloved by the Chinese,” says Van Parys.

For each of the 25 models, the artist strived to portray a particular moment in Shanghai district architecture. Taken altogether, the effect is dazzling, both as a true-to-life microcosm of the vast city, and a breathtaking artistic vision onto itself.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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