Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Art Of Geometry - Bathsheba Grossman

"I'm an artist exploring the region between art and mathematics, and this is my gallery and storefront. My work is about life in three dimensions: working with symmetry and balance, getting from a zero point to infinity, and always finding beauty in geometry".
Bathsheba Grossman

That's to say, I like to think about shapes, and occasionally I think up a new one, and usually they come out very symmetrical. I'm like any artist in that it's difficult to explain exactly how and why this happens.

So I'll write about my odd points. Apparently I've studied more math than most artists. I don't use it very directly – I'm certainly not a research mathematician, and most of my designs are drawn rather than computed – but it's plain that my creative engine is interested in this subject.

I like technology. 3D printing in metal is my main medium, and I also work with subsurface laser damage in glass. This isn't because I love gadgets, it's much more trouble to do this than to use the mature tech that most sculptors enjoy. I do it because the shapes I have in mind aren't moldable, and I want to make a lot of them. Those two constraints, taken together, turn out to be remarkably constraining: most traditional sculpture technology simply doesn't operate on un-moldable objects.

I have a grass-roots business model. I don't limit editions, I price as low as costs permit, and most of my selling is direct to you, by way of this site. My plan is to make these designs available, rather than restrict the supply. It's more like publishing than like gallery-based art marketing: we don't feel that a book has lost anything because many people have read it. In fact it becomes more valuable as it gains wide currency and influence. With the advent of 3D printing, this is the first moment in art history when sculpture can be, in this sense, published. I think it's the wave of the future.

That said, most people's next question is "So, is this your real job?" At present I'm happy to say that it is. It took me about ten years from art school to make a dollar, during which I worked as a programmer, college professor, tech writer, typist, web designer, etc., making sculpture by hand as best I could. In the last years of the 20th century, 3D printing was developed to a level that could do my work, and then, quite suddenly, I began to be an artist.

That was satisfying of course, but it brought new challenges as I studied up on CAD, made my mistakes with new media, and started figuring how to make the money work. There's always so much to do! I've tried to include on this site everything that you need to understand what I do, and to take up the subject yourself if you feel inclined. There's plenty of room.

But none of this is important to the work: naturally I'm proud of it, but now it makes its own way. I hope you'll enjoy my designs. They're visions of order in the universe, my peaceful places. I feel calm and hopeful in making them, and I hope they will bring some of that satisfaction into your life.

In the News

What's the impact of all this? Suprisingly large. My work has appeared in the New York Times, the London Times and Der Spiegel, as well as Wired, Discover and Make magazines. One of my lamps was in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential designs of 2007. My sculptures have appeared in two hit TV shows, Second Life, and a Japanese videogame commercial. John Conway and Douglas Hofstadter used pictures of them in recent books. They've been shown in Italy, Spain, Korea, New York and Cleveland. An irony-free Wikipedia entry for me was started in 2004. And this site moved over a quarter million dollars of art in 2007, which isn't bad considering I wrote the whole thing by hand, with web skills dating from about 1996.

On the supply side, I've been influential in popularizing direct-metal printing as an art medium. My work has led many artists, both mathematical and the other kind, to experiment with the technology, and some are prolific in it. The success of my work has invited 3D printing suppliers and developers to consider art and design applications as a strong market that is worth developing.

The upshot is that I've become known in geek culture and in the 3D printing industry. I haven't made much inroad into the traditional art world, but then showing in galleries is not a focus for me. I made a conscious decision about ten years ago to work directly for the viewer – you – rather than try to get the attention of cultural gatekeepers. The logical outcome of this decision was that only a small group of mathematicians and enthusiasts would ever see this site. It's been a huge surprise, and a testament to the love of math and geometry that's out there untapped, that it didn't turn out that way.

Thank you for letting me have this job.

Metal Process

A look into how I do metalwork.


A quick tour of my workspaces.

text excerpted from Betsheba Grossman website

1 comment:

Tim Ruffner - GPI Prototype said...

Specializing in:
*DMLS – Direct Metal Laser Sintering
*3D Printing
*RTV Casting and Urethane Molds
*Laser Scanning
*Short Run 1-1000 and Prototype

Tim Ruffner
Account Executive
GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services, Inc.
940 North Shore Drive
Lake Bluff, IL 60044
Phone: 847.615.8900
Fax: 847.615.8920
Email: Timr@GPIprototype.com
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