Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Most recent entries
- 3D printed baby in the womb
- A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
- Ashes Lag recovery continues
- A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
- “In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
- Blue wind
- Don’t judge a new technology by its first stumbling steps
- Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
- I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
- The Met swoops on the Adams Family
- South Bank Architects?
- Colour photography
- Games lovely games
- A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
- Omaha dead
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Category archive: Sculpture
… Yet for me, the most memorable 3D printing innovation of the last year or so was the launch of a $1,200 service called ‘Form of Angels’ from the Japanese pioneer Fasotec. Here an MRI scan is taken of a pregnant woman, and then used to produce a 3D printed model of her unborn baby. The plastic foetus can even be supplied embedded in a resin model of its mother’s midriff for presentation on the expectant parent’s mantelpiece.
Pictures of what that looks like here, among (as you can imagine) many other places.
Yesterday I did something that is often rather hard. I photographed some wind. Any idiot who can video (a category of idiot that does not really include me – although I hope to be changing that Real Soon Now) can video wind. You video trees swaying. Roof clutter swaying. Things being blown around. Whatever. But how do you photo the wind? Answer you photo its static dislocative (my word processor says that isn’t a word – it is now) effects. But these effects are rather rare. What you need is something like sails on boats, or some kind of urban substitute for sails on boats. Yesterday, when on my way to Victoria Station, I encountered just such a substitute.
Did you detect a whiff of verbosity in the first paragraph above? If so you would, I think, be right. This is because I was writing verbiage to go next to a big vertical picture, verbiage that needs to be enough to prevent the picture impinging upon the previous posting.
The first two paragraphs of the above verbiage did not suffice to accomplish this task. Hence these final five paragraphs.
And hence the fact that they are five paragraphs rather than one.
I was just making sure.
I can’t tell until I post it, whether this problem has been sorted, so I am now over-reacting.
From the Preface of Christopher Barnatt’s 3D Printing: The Next Industrial Revolution:
Within a decade or so, it is likely that a fair proportion of our new possessions will be printed on demand in a local factory, in a retail outlet, or on a personal 3D printer in our own home. Some objects may also be stored and transported in a digital format, before being retrieved from the Internet just as music, video and apps are downloaded today. While the required technology to allow this to happen is still in its infancy, 3D printing is developing very rapidly indeed. Some people may tell you that 3D printing is currently being overhyped and will have little impact on industrial practices and our personal lives. Yet these are the same kinds of individuals who once told us that the Internet was no more than a flash in the pan, that online shopping would have no impact on traditional retail, and that very few people would ever carry a phone in their pocket.
In 1939 the first TV sets to go on sale in the United States were showcased at the World Fair in New York. These early TVs cost between $200 and $600 (or about the same as an automobile), and had rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens. Most of those who attended the World Fair subsequently dismissed television as a fad that would never catch on. After all, how many people could reasonably be expected to spend a large proportion of their time staring at a tiny, flickering image?
The mistake made by those who dismissed television in 1939 was to judge a revolutionary technology on the basis of its earliest manifestation. Around 7S years later, those who claim 3D printing to be no more than hype are, I think, in danger of making exactly the same error.
I’m guessing that what I saw in Currys PC World, Tottenham Court Road, was the 3D Printer equivalent of those “rather fuzzy, five inch, black-and-white screens”, at the New York World Fair, the first stumbling steps.
I haven’t read much of this book yet, but I have already learned one excellent application of 3D printing, which is to print not the Thing itself, but the mold for making the Thing. You then make the Thing itself in the regular old way. Clever.
LATER: Here is Barnatt’s description of that last thing (p. 9):
A particularly promising application of 3D printing is in the direct production of molds, or else of master ‘patterns’ from which final molds can be taken. For example, as we shall see in the next chapter, ‘3D sand casting’ is increasingly being used to print molds into which molten metals are then directly poured to create final components. As explained by ExOne - a pioneer in the manufacture of 3D printers for this purpose - by 3D printing sand casting molds, total production time can be reduced by 70 per cent, with a greater accuracy achieved and more intricate molds created. In fact, using 3D sand casting, single part molds can be formed that would be impossible to make by packing sand around a pattern object that would then need to be removed before the mold was filled with molten metal.
Like I say, clever.
My scanner turned “molds” into “maids” throughout that piece of scanning. Not clever.
Yes, I’m afraid I’ve been doing rather a lot of quota posting of late.
So anyway, here’s the link.
And here is the quota photo:
That’s actually one of my more favourite recent photos. It was taken just before Christmas, in Twickenham, where Patrick Crozier lives, through the window of a shop where they sell … things like that.
I like the water on the window.
When I saw this camel, this afternoon, in Station Approach Road, on my way to meet someone in Waterloo Station, I was baffled. I photoed it, but I was baffled:
But now, through the magic that is the www, I can tell you that this camel is to be found round the back of a pub in Lower Marsh, called the Camel & Artichoke. I walk past this pub a lot, on my way to Gramex, in Lower Marsh, but had never really registered that its name involved a camel, or that when I saw the camel, I was round the back of this pub.
Blog and learn. Photograph and learn.
Tonight on BBC4 they just showed a programme about Carl Faberge, blingster to the Czars.
I learned a lot. Next up, a show done by Jonathan Meades, about Brutalist architecture. He’s for it.
This seems an appropriate juxtaposition, and I am recording both. The insanely ornate and extravagant trinkets unleashed by Faberge, and all the other riche and nouveau riche junk that flooded into the world in and around 1900, had a direct cause-and-effect relationship with the anti-ornamental puritanism of architectural brutalism. Many, including me, some of the time, react to Faberge eggs not just with indifference but with aggressive hatred.
I also beheld Brutalist architecture for most of the last half century with even greater loathing. This loathing is only now abating, as the buildings themselves start to diminish in number.
That building used to adorn the roundabout on the other side of the river from Parliament. It is now no more. I photographed it. Then, I photographed its demolition. I did not mourn its passing.
Meades is now, as promised, rhapsodising about Brutalism. Why, he asks, does architecture have to be nice? He is likening it to Victorian architectural oddities of earlier times.
What he misses, or is missing so far, is that Brutalism’s aesthetic aggression went hand in hand with huge collectivist power grabs. Brutalism was the architectural face of state centralism. For me, Meades makes a big distinction between “Brutalism” and regular modern. I don’t really see this. Both went hand in hand, I’d say.
Meades’ injunction that people should not hate Brutalism is rather like expecting conquered Europeans not to be such philistines about the obviously beautiful design of Junkers 87s or Tiger Tanks. Ah, correction. Now he is acknowledging quite explicitly the roots of Brutalism in second world war concrete bunkers, most notably those constructed by the Nazis. “Forget” that the Nazis built these things, says Meades. But I suspect that the Brutalists actually liked the very quality that made the Nazis do this kind of thing. Nazis conquered twee old Europe. Brutalism assaulted the twee architecture of post-war Europe, the Europe that is still awash with Fabergerie. There is a deep affinity here.
The show is still going as I post this, and is in any case only part one of two. This was live blogging.
Mick Hartley links to some pictures of people forming human sculptures. He chooses his favourite. I choose this one:
One of the speculations I offered in my recent talk about the impact of digital photography was that digital photography has greatly encouraged this kind of temporary art.
Recently I heard tell of some kind of performance art event where cameras were forbidden. My googling skills did not enable me to track down any report of such an event, but I am guessing that one of their motives was to avoid the creation of an object, which someone might later buy, and then (perhaps for a great deal more money) sell. And I further guess that the “artists” in question were being deliberately contrary, as artists typically like to be these days, and chose to do the daft, counter-intuitive thing. The obvious response to temporary art is to take pictures of it, to make it permanent. So, said the artists, let’s forbid that, and be different.
But most people who do something “creative” want some kind of record or product of their efforts, something to show for it. Literally, some thing, to show. And the fact that it is now so totally easy to create such things, such records, and communicate them far and wide to friends and family, real and virtual, must surely increase the attraction of doing such temporary art. Art, that is to say, that in the past would have been temporary, but which can now be made permanent. See also: painting, sand castles, ice sculptures.
As to what these particular people are communicating with their body assemblages, what it speaks to me of is the futility of life in the world now, for young people, educated, unemployable, unneeded, probably in debt.
I think it just possible that I may have invented that clutch of blogging phrases involving the word “quota” - “quota post”, “quota photo”, or (my favourite, I think) ”quota quote”. I rather doubt it. More likely I invented such phrases simultaneously with several other bloggers. But, if I did invent this quota stuff, kudos to me. Either way, I do genuinely suspect that 6k at least caught this usage from me. This being because, like me at the moment (although not always), he (always) likes to stick up something every day. Despite him having a life, a job, a family, and other such peripheral blogging paraphernalia.
Often, it’s a quota photo. Like, for instance, this one, …:
I had been trying for a while to work out just what it was that I found so particularly appealing about this snap. What was it that I found so particularly … particular? Then, I got it. It looks to me, not so much like a real sea, as like a static, plasticated sea, as made by a really, really good maker of models.
The sea looks like it is made not of sea, but of solidified glue, or that see-through plastic stuff, called whatever it’s called. Throw a tiny ball bearing at this solid sea, and the ball bearing would just bounce off, with no splashing, and making the same noise it would make if bouncing off a table. The immobile sea would remain immobile, untouched, impervious.
The effect of a solid object rather than a regular sea is, I think, partly the result of the lighting. The effect is more like the way a lamp is reflected in a shiny table top than the way we usually see light on the sea.
But most of all, it looks somewhat weird because it’s a photograph. Photographs freeze moving objects into static objects, and sometimes this makes them look entirely different and unrealistic. A video of the sea would look sea-like. Videoed sea swallows ball-bearings, just like regular sea. Just not this sea, as seen and immobilised by 6k.
All this because 6k likes to have something up, often. And that’s the point of quota posting, for those of us who are suited to it. If you have reasonable taste, then the mere fact of starting doing a blog posting ensures not only that something will go up, but that, really quite often, something really quite good will go up. Like this photo, which I consider to be very good indeed. Often what takes the time, with blogging as with life, is not doing it, but getting round to doing it. The actual doing is often quickly done, and often very well done.
Some of my best blog postings have happened because I wanted to put up any old something, however bad, and it turned out really good.
That talk I gave at Christian Michel’s was really just a ragbag of different thoughts I have had over the last few years about digital photography and its effects and uses. One of the effects I speculated about - having already done so beforehand, here was that digital photography has encouraged temporary art, such as graffiti, ice sculpture, and the like, by rewarding it with a permanence and swankableness that would, pre digital photography, have been hard to contrive.
Yesterday, following one of David Thompson’s Friday Ephemera links to some bizarre hyper-realistic painted wood sculptures, I came across yet another variant on the theme of artistic temporariness, in the form of some particularly fine sandcastles, done by someone called Calvin Seibert:
I chose a sandcastle picture that included the sea in it, to emphasise the fact that this wonderful creation will very soon be swallowed up and turned back into beach. In King Canute’s time, that would have been that, but we now live in the post-Canute age. Waves can be stilled, and sandcastles can stand on beaches for ever.
And now here are some photos done in much better light. Even dusk, outdoors, is massively better lit than mere electricity. They were taken last Saturday, when I journeyed to Docklands, to see if I could take photos of ice sculpture, and of people taking photos of ice sculpture.
Alas, I was not the only person with this idea. I have the strong suspicion that the size of the crowd dwarfed the event (perhaps because of write-ups beforehand like this), but have no idea, really, what was happening out there. All I got to photo at all interestingly was the gigantic queue to see the ice sculptures:
On the right, my camera, at maximum zoom, does its best to photo a sculpture, and a sculptor. I figured: I’ll look at it when I get home.
I headed off in the opposite direction, back across the Docklands peninsula towards the centre of London, and instead took photos like this:
The top of the Cheesegrater, top left, was taken from outside Tower Hill Tube Station. All the others from Docklands.
I am warming to the Cheesegrater, which is often the way with me and a new Big Thing. At first, I disliked it, because it spoiled the view from my part of London of the Gherkin, which I consider to be a modern classic. But now I am getting to like the Cheesegrater, along with all the other new Big Things, as yet another wonderfully chaotic and uncoordinated contribution to London’s ever more chaotic cityscape.
Says Rowan Moore in the Observer, disapprovingly:
Two of the more celebrated such objects, the Walkie-Talkie and the Cheesegrater, have now tumbled on to the skyline of the City of London, their exteriors nearly finished, with completion dates for both in the first half of next year. They combine high degrees of professionalism in their execution, with multiple consultants working hard at everything from sustainability to cycle storage to lift speeds to lighting, with an impression of randomness. They are better in many ways than the same kind of buildings would be in most parts of the world, and achieve, for example, impressive ratings for environmental performance, yet they attract these unfortunate nicknames.
I love these nicknames, which I believe are affectionate rather than angry. I love their good-natured mockery. More and more, I love the anarchic individualism of these Big Things, for exactly the reason that this guy disapproves.
Could it be better? Would it be possible to have variety and architectural invention, and the craftsmanship that the Leadenhall unquestionably has, as well as accessible sky gardens and hypostyles, and yet have a whole that is more than the sum of its parts? Could the expertise and sophistication of all the consultants who contribute to these towers be matched by the City’s planners?
Well, yes, it surely could. But in practice the choice was probably between the aesthetic chaos we have, and imposed aesthetic tedium. And I know which I prefer, if only because the aesthetic chaos we have gets up all the right noses, e.g. the nose of this guy moaning in the Observer. Had those City Planners had enough clout to make everything “more than the sum of its parts”, they would probably have had enough clout to prevent each part, each Big Thing, being nearly as interesting, and they would have. We can never know for sure about such things, but I reckon the results would have been far less
As it is, people like me love to photo these “celebrated objects” with their “unfortunate nicknames”, and I like to photo such people photoing.
Here are two further Big Thing snaps I took that day, of the Walkie-Talkie and of the Three Eyed Razor, or whatever excellent nickname the “Strata” ends up having bestowed upon it:
And here, finally, are a couple more Big Things With Sunset snaps, this time with leafless vegetation (a constant source of photo-delight) in the foreground:
All in all, an excellent little expedition. And a good example of how my Official Destination (this time it was those ice sculptures) is really just an excuse to get me out and about.
Occasionally I visit my two favourite electronic toy stores, Maplin’s and PC World, both in Tottenham Court Road, much of the reason they are both favourites being that I can visit both in one easy go, by walking down Tottenham Court Road from Warren Street, which is an easy ride from my nearest tube, Pimlico.
On my latest visit to PC World, I spied a 3D printer, looking rather forlorn and ignored, under a big sign saying SALE:
Around its base, you can just about make out various pointless florescent yellowy-green objects – semi-fish sculptures, very untrustworthy receptacles, ugly and uncomfortable bodily adornments, replacement chess pieces, and the like. These objects come out badly in a photo of my sort because of their flourescence, which changes them, from regular objects with shapes and shadows into feeble and rather shadowless (and hence also rather shapeless) light bulbs.
As you can probably just about make out, for the privilege of owning this absurd device, you are asked to part with £1,195, although my bet is that a near offer might well suffice.
The domestic 3D printer, as I foresaw (that’s a Samizdata piece posted a year and a half ago), has so far been a classic dog-that-hasn’t-barked. Will it ever? That will require a killer app - objects easily and repeated made with a domestic 3D printer for a few pennies, not easily obtainable by just buying them, … and for the life of me I cannot think of such an object. Ornamental food is my best shot. Something hot, or maybe cold, which makes it hard to buy, even locally. No doubt someone will think of something, and then 3D printing will erupt into popular affection and derision the way it hasn’t at all so far.
As Samizdata commenter Shirley Knott said:
I, for one, expect to be taken by surprise.
Domestic printers were different, even when at their most primitive, e.g done with mechanised typewriting with ribbons or with little alphabet balls – or with big ugly dots. Bits of paper, different every time but in the same format, saying different things each time but with the same black gunk every time, well, that’s a very useful process to have on tap. A relentless supply of flourescent semi-fish, forget it.
Nevertheless, as other Samizdata commenters make very clear, 3D printing is already a huge contributor to the regular manufacturing economy, just as computers were, long before they also went domestic.
Someone should, as stated in the piece at the other end of the link, apply (better) 3D printing to this, and I bet someone is doing this, even as I blog.
I just googled (images) 3d printing architectural modelling. Wow.
I took this photo last month, in Gramex, Lower Marsh:
Hope you like it. I do.
It’s not a real dog.
Since Gramex sells classical music, I wonder if the dog is any relation of this dog.
Photoed by me today:
The golden dancing lady is the one on top of the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Quota photos, I’m afraid, but I like them:
Taken by me at St James’s Park Tube, yesterday. Not really sculpture, of course. But I like the colours that my camera has automatically selected for these images. And I like how the one on the left has the dirt highlighting the shapes, rather like make-up.
Anyone interested in new public sculpture should try googling for news about: Falkirk, Kelpies, sculpture, and such things. And be sure to include images in your searchings.
My favourite photos of these newly completed Kelpies are, I think, these ones, which were taken while they were still being constructed, and in particular, I like this one:
Horses heads, and also cranes.
I also like the one with the road sign in the foreground.
STV (Scottish TV presumably) news report today:
The Kelpies, by sculptor Andy Scott, are a monument to Central Scotland’s horse-powered heritage.
Each stands at a towering 30m and weighs over 300 tonnes. At a cost of £5m, the project is intended to be a symbol of regeneration in the Forth Valley.
They are part of the £43m Helix redevelopment of around 350 hectares of land between Falkirk and Grangemouth, including new parkland and pathways. It is hoped the site will attract thousands more tourists to the region and boost the local economy.
The statues were inspired by the supernatural water horses of Celtic mythology as well as the powerful heavy horses that were used in the early days of the industrial revolution.
Mr Scott, who also created the Heavy Horse sculpture on the M8 near Glasgow, said: “During the conceptual stages, I visualised the Kelpies as monuments to the horse and a paean to the lost industries of the Falkirk area and of Scotland.
I just caught the fag end of a TV news report on this, and google did the rest.