It’s one thing to algorithmically push pixels around, or even molten plastic and such for that matter, but it’ll be quite another thing altogether when it’s atoms.
Much of my recent work can be considered a form of Future Studies; correcting for fallacious depictions of the further future. It’s from contemporary technoprogressive, transhumanist, H+, hard sci-fi and singularitarian ideas that I’m filtering-out fodder for forward-looking visual responses. Future Studies led to looking into atomic precise manufacturing, that is, speculations surrounding how we might eventually assemble things from the atom up and give rise to nearabout costless systems for controlling the structure of matter itself. It occurred to me that atomic precise manufacturing may not only bring about abundance, as is hoped, but actually make for objecthoods the likes of which we’ve not known and maybe can’t know this side of an intelligence explosion beyond which materiality itself appears wholly incomprehensible without radical cognitive enhancements. So in an outreach effort, I set out to increase awareness of this imminent object-shock of sorts and provide viewers a sense of how hacking matter happens. That’s when I started repurposing the representational rubics of molecular modeling and visualization software tools.
In modeling tools, I sculpt virtual nanoscaled structures, atom by amino. I also appropriate Protein Data Bank files, nanomolecular machine components, junk DNA sculptural origami and novel inorganic material models such as sheets of graphene, bucky-balls, and carbon nanotubes. In visualization wares, I overprocess, or ornamentally-challenge, models by writing Python scripts to algorithmically-automate alternative formal derivations, fractalize aminos off forms to perform generative crystallography, code for crazy carbon chaining, supersaturate all-of-the-above style color palettes, deform meshes, glitch render modes and ray tracings. I sort thereafter, selecting for the most nuanced nano-novelty, so to speak, and compose these 2D or lenticular pigment prints I call Qubit-Built Quilts; painterly plans for playborground ball pits of pure operationality all about an atomic admin access-privs picturesque.
3D printing is a gateway drug. That in mind, I’ve been hand-hobbling together from scratch a bunch of RepRap 3D printers; built not only to materialize my modded molecular models, but also exhibit expressionistic potential and behave more like painting assistants. It’s especially important to problematize prototyping at this point to expose that which isn’t exhausted or collapsed into fully exploitable usability in the Functionalist sense. So I craft custom print settings to print more like painting, flirt with epic-print-fails, and allow irregular parts likely to all but muck up my printers. The goal generally is to glean artifacts that aesthetically accentuate hot-mess molecular modeling and 3D printing, revealing how each translates one another with tensions that ‘overheat’ both media.
These Species-Tool-Beings or Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs, as I call them, could be considered sculptural reliefs, both collage and assemblage since some models are small-scale-sculptural while others are printed paper-thin or impasto-painterly. I use traditional pigment dispersions and acrylic binders to affix models to each other and onto substrates, and do so in an emergent manner, part by piecemeal. I paint much like my 3D prints, painting in and around them to reconcile resultant pictures. I’ve always thought paint ought to behave like scar tissue; heuristic evidence of paying dues, earning injuries and healing. So for me, this is as much about handicrafts as it is the hyperextended hand of the artist.
The way I see it, real-time instantiation of at-will thought-forms becomes a freedom of expression issue real quick. Post-printability of anythingyness means we won’t just be saying stuff, we’ll be saying with, in, or into stuff itself. I like to think this’ll be like thinking in, on, across objecthoods or musing more like manipulating materiality. This will certainly come into conflict with that which we consider constitutes life. Indeed, I claim it’ll come-to-pass that what we print is how we’ll process what we are.
I coined the term ‘transubstrational’ in some measure to help handle this breadth of built-being. Transubstrationality is to be inclusive of sundry subtler, slower states of transitional or transgressive living. It’s not about leveling-up. It’s about leveling-across any and many orders of scale and substrates.