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3D printed paintings debut in art galleries

Posting in Design

3D printed art is now being showcased in galleries in the United States, but unlike most exhibits, the work is meant to be experienced through both the tactile and visual senses.

Last month, a two-year exhibition called Sightlines opened at the Century Center and the South Bend Museum of Art in Indiana. It features an artist who is pioneering the medium, Ioan Florea. Works by Jeff Boshart, Lea Goldman, Maria Lux, Mollie Oblinger and Jake Webster are also on display.

Florea says that 3D printing, a form of manufacturing that is used to make printable modelsgunspenshouseshuman organs, and even a moon base, has made it possible to rapidly create very intricate shapes that cannot be reproduced by hand. He 3D-prints imprints using ultralight nano-materials, polymers and pigments. The imprints are manually embedded into the paintings, combining the printer's work with muscle power.

"In my art I use nano-materials that dictate to the paint and polymers how to behave. [These] nano-materials create internal structures with memory. Also I use nano-pigments with smart properties and ultralight materials that defy gravity," Florea said. "All of this in combination with the 3D printing technology and the new transfer technique I invented allows me to create and experiment like I could have only dreamed few years ago. I am interested in knot theory and shape topology and the endless possibilities of combining symmetry and asymmetry. I also get inspired by the world of nanotechnology."

3D-printed art is different from other mediums such as traditional paintings and photography because it "brings reality to the actual object," he said. "It is possible to bring to reality fossils, artifacts, ancient alphabets, DNA structures, nanometers and universe...The potential is endless."

Florea is not profiting off of 3D printing yet, which he says is due to it being contemporary art that is experimental and conceptual. Companies making 3D printer crafts and jewelry are making a decent enough return for multiple start-ups. WIll it be long before virtual artists sell "print at home" work?

(image credit: Ioan Florea)

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— By on July 17, 2013, 12:32 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure