'Making' A Statement - Exploration of 3D Printing Technologies as a form of Customisation and Ownership in Urban Spaces
Ownership of urban space has been heavily contested in recent years by prominent artists, policy-makers and citizens alike. From Shephard Fairey and his condemnation of corporate culture in public space, to Banksy and his use of imagery as a form of political activism, the presence of 2D media in urban environments has become increasingly relevant. This research summarises recent advances in our thinking about space and place, and seeks the potential opportunities for customisation and taking ownership of these spaces to create a socially engaging, collaborative environment for the creative city (Florida, 2003). By using street art and graffiti culture as a model for creative inclusivity, this research explores the effects of new forms of data collection and configuration and the design opportunities they present. In doing so, this research hopes to promote discussion and debate into how we may use new media such as 3D printing and computer-generated imagery to make provocative statements and elicit responses. To explore 3D printing as a means of customising and taking ownership of space, this research identifies recurring themes in traditional 2D media, as well as manifestations of 3D and 4D media in urban spaces. This background research is documented in a taxonomy of precedents combined with a technology review and observational research in the field. This background research provides a context for researching through design in the form of iterative physical experimentation and reflection. Beginning with abstract experimentation, the first stage of testing digital making technologies identifies opportunities provided by different software, materials, scanning and 3D printing itself, at all different scales and resolutions. This active process of making also tests the visual languages and aesthetics afforded by the technologies, particularly parametric modelling techniques as well as low resolution models with new visual qualities. By applying the knowledge gained from the abstract experimentation and observational research, different issues surrounding the urban context are identified and responded to using 3D technologies. These responses are carefully articulated to ensure that they are not only ‘of the street’ but also ‘of the technology’ and thereby serve as examples of ‘making meaning’ through 3D media in an urban context.