Until November 24th, the Boiler gallery in New York will be exhibiting a fascinating piece of art from Californian born artist Jonathan Schipper. Detritus offers the viewer a unique vantage point on the impermanence of manmade objects and the way our environment checks our effect upon it over time.
In order to do this, Schipper utilises a process closely resembling the one at work in your common-or-garden MakerBot, if on a far larger scale.
A mechanical extruder hangs above the room, held on four cables. Controlled by a system of spools, winces and a laptop, the extruder is moved from location to location depositing a mixture of water and rock salt on the floor below and creating salt models of everyday man-made items. As quickly as it makes one item, however, a previously built object melts due to the moisture in the air.
All the while, the viewers relax in a nearby hot-tub observing the process. While Schipper has ambitions to eventually create objects such as washing machines, chairs and toilets, for now he is keeping the objects simple.
The idea is to show that, while we expect our contribution to the environment around us to be permanent, it is truly anything but. In actuality, the environment itself is constantly redressing and limiting our progress.
The structures and objects that weproduce, to which we build up such attachments, do not have the durability we expect. When confronted with this fact, we must face ideas not just about the limitations of our creativity but also about our own mortality.
Detritus also makes a salient point about art. While we often consider works of art to possess an infinite quality, in reality they too will disintegrate and disappear over time. In ‘Detritus’ art is created and destroyed in the same breath, right before your eyes. Here, art is not a permanent commodity to be collected and admired but a transitory experience to be shared.
The work of centuries takes place in a few hours. All the while, you kick back in your swim suit, enjoying the hot tub.
Schipper is one of many artists currently incorporating 3D print techniques to create profound and unique work. This kind of innovation may well be just as important to the technology’s future as the development of 3D manufacturing, medical supplies and retail.