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QotW: Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?


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Hi folks, once again no new questions in the pool, so I will pose a question that seems appropriate for the times even though I believe it to have been discussed in the forums in one way or another.  . . . . . .

QotW: Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic? This idea of technology involved in the arts seems to be ongoing whether you are a photographer, graphic artist, animator, painter, sculptor or potter. Much of these and many more forms of art and craft have been hit by the tech bug in one way or another. Photography has gone digital, and yet we see a renaissance of film photography going on. Graphic art and design has gone almost completely to digital, even though concept work may still be done with paper and pencil.  Technology is not something that we can hold back it appears, and I would not want to.  However, there is a polarization involved with technology, there are those that fear that the use of technology is not true to the art or craft it is used in. I have personally seen people's lack of understanding and prejudices cloud their opinions almost appearing to be on a Witch hunt when it comes to something new as when I introduced a course in Digital animation and music with a fellow Music teacher at my high school. Oh well. Some may assume that I bought my kiln years ago with out a setter and fire by heat color and cone packs that I do so out of fear of losing control, not at all. When I purchased my kiln Orton kiln setters were the top of tech for the day. I wanted to be able to fire up and down, with a cone setter this is awkward, but not difficult, but I figured learning to do it without the setter would be good for me. My kilns at school had setters on them, and I used them constantly changing cones up or down to match what was firing or what I saw happening in the kiln. I was always very aware of "zones" where things would work better whether firing reds, or  greens or colors with iron or chromium. Time gives you a lot of insights. Even though I have often thought of adding a controller, wonder now if it is worth it on this 35 year old kiln.

I also insisted on adding a slab roller, extruders, and other pieces of equipment when working in the HS studio, going to digital glaze calculation as soon as possible, doing spreadsheets for glaze formulas and anything to make my job easier.   I have not gotten into 3-D ceramic printing, and doubt if I ever will, just as I have not done a lot of casting; I am more of a hands in the mud kind of guy. I also like the idea of wedging the clay, throwing on the wheel as exercise that is good for my arthritis.

 

So I will ask of all of you:

QotW: Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?

I think it is obvious I don't draw a line just prefer to work the way I do.

 

best,

Pres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QotW: Do you draw a line in the sand about technology when it comes to your studio or anything Ceramic?

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I'm of the opinion that just because I may not be inclined to use a piece of tech in my own practice, that doesn't make it an invalid approach. I've seen some really interesting things done with a 3D

Interesting how the discussion quickly centered on 3D printing! I like what Tom noted about how much technology we use in the first place, and have ever since we figured out how to light a fire. I had

I've searched for examples of 3-D  printed ceramics online.    Many were  delicate, aesthetically pleasing  extruded coil pieces arranged in every configuration the computer and printer will allow, an

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I'm of the opinion that just because I may not be inclined to use a piece of tech in my own practice, that doesn't make it an invalid approach. I've seen some really interesting things done with a 3D printer for mold making, or even for it's own sake.  But I am not a drafter, and my mind doesn't think along those precise lines (heh).  I will likely never use a 3D printer, but I love the work a friend of mine is doing in printing masters so he can slipcast screw tops for some bottles he's making. I personally dislike using a Giffen grip, but allow that it's a perfectly valid tool for others to use. 

For me, I think it's a matter of asking whether a given tool will actually assist me in doing what I want to do or what I need to make, and whether or not it's the most efficient and cost effective tool for doing the job. How badly do I want to make a given thing, and is that desire strong enough to motivate me to learn a new skill? Do I want to dedicate the necessary time and energy into doing that?

I think various forms of digital presentations of  your work or your working process also fall into this category.

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2 hours ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

For me, I think it's a matter of asking whether a given tool will actually assist me in doing what I want to do or what I need to make, and whether or not it's the most efficient and cost effective tool for doing the job. How badly do I want to make a given thing, and is that desire strong enough to motivate me to learn a new skill? Do I want to dedicate the necessary time and energy into doing that?

I think various forms of digital presentations of  your work or your working process also fall into this category.

As far as I'm concerned, anything goes if the technology will help., but you also have to consider that "technology" does not just mean computers or electronics. It could also mean advancements in materials, metals, etc...

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I think 3D printed pottery is hokey and ugly.  I have yet to see a 3d printed ceramic that expresses anything, it all just looks cold and commercial.  I understand there are many popular 3d printed artists out there, but 3d modelling on a computer is all about efficiency and I think something gets lost in the process.  It's the new kitschy 80s slipcast craze reimagined. 

There is technology which helps an artist create, and then there is technology that abstracts the artist away from creating.  

There's also the issue where to make the 3d model worth the designers time, it has to be recreated over and over, exactly the same.  I go to IKEA for that type of artwork!

I know, I know, I'm gonna get a lot of flack for saying that.  But the proof is in the pudding.  Compare hammerly ceramics and petrified forest potteries work.  Some is quite similar in style, but you can spot instantly, instinctively which has been printed and which is an original work.

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@liambesaw, come on tell us how you really feel ;)

Perhaps it's just a question that the relatively newer technique of 3d printed ceramics hasn't had enough time to be fully fleshed out yet. I get what you're saying about spotting the difference between those 2 artists you mentioned, how to capture that difference in programming? It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves.

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17 minutes ago, Min said:

@liambesaw, come on tell us how you really feel ;)

Perhaps it's just a question that the relatively newer technique of 3d printed ceramics hasn't had enough time to be fully fleshed out yet. I get what you're saying about spotting the difference between those 2 artists you mentioned, how to capture that difference in programming? It will be interesting to see how this technology evolves.

Haha, but what would be the point of programming humanity into 3d printed clay?  To make creativity more economic?  It doesn't make any sense to me.

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3-D printing is already an accepted manufacturing technique. Parts for equipment currently in use may be printed to replace old parts. The idea that someday you will pay a price for a piece of software to enter into your printer to make a new home decoration, machine part or such is not that far off. As with photography taking someone like Ansel Adams to raise the craft to an art form, it may take someone to raise 3D printing to an art form.

 

best,

Pres

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36 minutes ago, Pres said:

3-D printing is already an accepted manufacturing technique. Parts for equipment currently in use may be printed to replace old parts. The idea that someday you will pay a price for a piece of software to enter into your printer to make a new home decoration, machine part or such is not that far off. As with photography taking someone like Ansel Adams to raise the craft to an art form, it may take someone to raise 3D printing to an art form.

 

best,

Pres

I'd argue that ansel adams raised ansel adams into art form.  There has been no ansel adams since, unless you count anne geddes?  

I'm not even slightly an art snob, I know almost nothing about art from an institutional point.  But 3d printing isn't even a craft, it's outsourcing the craft to a machine, entirely.  

And if you think people will pay for designs to 3d print you're delusional.  Once something is on the internet, it will be freely had forever.  It's already a big problem. And that harkens back to the ikea art which 3d printed clay already resembles. Who cares if it can be had by anyone, no soul.

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I think all technology is valid in art. It's not better or worse, just different. For some people it's great, for others not so much. It all comes down to individual aesthetics and what drives the artist. The problems come when the technology replaces knowledge. In most cases, technology is used because it makes things easier and/or faster. However the path to learning how to do something the hard way teaches you a lot more than the easy path, so when you adopt technology it's important to understand what the technology is doing for you rather than just blindly letting it do its thing. This level of understanding is especially important when problems arise. If you don't know what's happening, you can't fix it. For instance, when using a digital electric kiln you still need to understand how cones and heatwork function so you can make necessary changes to the firing schedule to achieve your desired results.

The other problem that can arise is when one doesn't accept that technology and processes like firing kilns don't operate at the same level of precision. By scientific standards, firing ceramics in a studio is very imprecise, and for the most part can have a pretty big level of slop in the process. 1/2 cone firing difference isn't going to mean the difference between a functional or unsafe pot in most cases. We have quite a bit of latitude in what we do, which is a good thing. So when you hook a digital kiln controller to your PC and start graphing firings, you have to accept that the rate of climb is not going to perfectly match the programmed schedule, and that there is going to be some temperature variation between sections of the kiln, and that those variations are perfectly okay. I once had a customer that was freaking out over these very things, and even though I told him it wasn't necessary, he had me replace all his elements and relays and thermocouples, only to get the exact same results. There were maybe 8 degrees difference between the kiln sections, and the peak temp didn't exactly match the cone chart. His pots looked exactly like they were supposed to, exactly the same as before he hooked up the PC,  but he couldn't get past the variations in the firing graphs.

Personally, I'm all for bringing technology into my studio as long as it doesn't replace a process that I enjoy doing myself. I have no problem with 3D printed ceramics, and even like a lot of what I've seen, although I have no interest in pursuing it myself. To me it has a certain look to it that tells me it was printed, just like extruded or slipcast or thrown pots do, but if done well it makes for some really interesting forms and textures that would be incredibly difficult to make otherwise. It's just as valid as any other process IMO. Every process leans toward a specific aesthetic, and not liking that aesthetic is fine, but it doesn't mean the process isn't as artistically valid. Regardless of the process you use to create ceramic objects, you have to have good designs and skill at the process. That could be skill in programming a computer or skill at working on the wheel. Either way you have to understand the medium and the tools, and either way that skill means very little without good designs and an understanding of forms. If an object is beautiful then it's beautiful, regardless of how it's made. Perhaps being hand made makes it more inspiring or covetable, but from a purely visual judgment of a form it doesn't matter how it's made. I have a healthy respect for all well designed objects, even those that are mass produced. Eva Zeisel's work is a prime example.

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You actually don't need any skill at design to make 3d printed ceramics, Niel.  I do this at work every day, i am sorry to say but there is extremely little skill involved in both designing and printing 3d objects.

You can, of course, become skillful, but just like the efficiency in printing, the efficiency in design is also present.  

In the fledgling days of 3d modelling and printing there was a lot of technical skill involved, now most of it has been abstracted away.  Too lazy to be considered work, too automatic to be considered art.  I see it every day, it's what I do.

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50 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

i am sorry to say but there is extremely little skill involved in both designing and printing 3d objects.

How is designing 3D printed ceramics any different than designing wheel thrown objects? If you don't have a good sense of form, balance, proportions, etc, then it won't be successful either way. I'm not talking about the actual computer work. I'm talking about creativity and conceiving an interesting idea that can then be built with whatever process you choose. Design is all about the ideas, not the execution.

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They left the pyramids, and we are going to leave cheesy 3d printed garbage that you can buy at that store in the mall that sells hookas and 3 ft tall leopard statues for the house!

For me, electricity is finite. It's not that I won't introduce technology, but I love the fact that you need absolutely nothing but things easily found in nature to make pots.

You can paint with earth pigments and, in the right cave, maybe have it last forever, but nothing has the potential to last as long as pottery.

If we respect this, old, natural art that is part of our evolution as humans, we can introduce technologies to our studios.

If we don't respect this, it's not that we can't introduce technologies, but when the electricity goes out, those of us who do are stealing your customers!

Hell with "copy and paste" "art".

Technology is Finite.

Sorce

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58 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

How is designing 3D printed ceramics any different than designing wheel thrown objects? If you don't have a good sense of form, balance, proportions, etc, then it won't be successful either way. I'm not talking about the actual computer work. I'm talking about creativity and conceiving an interesting idea that can then be built with whatever process you choose. Design is all about the ideas, not the execution.

Here's how.  Grab a cylinder object, balloon it out here and there with a couple clicks, add some library shapes or whatever and voila, a masterpiece right?  But you didn't do anything to any material, right?  You can't bend a wheel thrown or slab built piece like you can virtually with a couple clicks, clay doesn't work like that.  So without any worries about materials for the design, etc, you can print an object that would take actual careful thought and skill to make "in real life".  I think in your head you open a 3d design software and you are building something from the ground up or something.  It's not like that. It's so much easier and simple.

Anyway, I will have this goofy point of view until I see something 3d printed that isn't mimicking something better.  I reckon the temptation is just too high to use the vast libraries of premade and scanned 3d objects that are out there.  

I will not bow to our robot overlords! Haha, nah I just see printed stuff on Instagram and reddit and think wow that's just lazy, but I'm looking at it from the point of view of someone who has been using the software casually/professionally for a while.

Think of just drawing a smiley face on a piece of paper and then someone else turns it into clay, that's about as much as you need to know.  Who is the artist? The machine?

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31 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Cheesy garbage is cheesy garbage regardless of how it's made. Is a poorly made heart-shaped pinch pot ashtray better than a 3D printed heart-shaped ashtray? 

Yes, because you can tell someone made the crappy heart shaped pinch pot, and you can tell that someone did not make the printed one.  I'm not talking about the print lines or resolution of the print, I'm talking about even when the lines are sanded off, you can still instinctively tell it was printed.

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1 minute ago, liambesaw said:

You can't bend a wheel thrown or slab built piece like you can virtually with a couple clicks, clay doesn't work like that. 

This is exactly why it's an exciting option. You can do things with it that you can't easily do using other methods. It's just a tool.

3 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

So without any worries about materials for the design, etc, you can print an object that would take actual careful thought and skill to make "in real life". 

The idea that you don't have to worry about materials or use careful though when designing 3D printed objects is false. You still have to be knowledgeable of the materials and how they work. The printer is not magic.  Plus there's still the issue of how any specific form will behave in firing, as well as the glazing process. It's not like you print clay and it's done. I have a friend with a 3D printer (for plastics), and we've talked at length about how different plastics behave differently, how supports systems have to be built into the design, cooling rates, plastic temps, etc. Same with the clay- you have to have knowledge of how the slip will behave, nozzle sizes, etc. It's not like you go buy a 3D ceramic printer at Wal-Mart and you're successfully printing 10 minutes after you unbox it. True, it's faster than learning how to throw a pot, but that doesn't make it worse. Is driving a car bad compared to walking because it takes away the 'real life' experience of getting from one place to another?

6 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I just see printed stuff on Instagram and reddit and think wow that's just lazy

This gets to the heart of it. Your issue is not with the process, it's with how the process is being used. 

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15 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

Yes, because you can tell someone made the crappy heart shaped pinch pot, and you can tell that someone did not make the printed one.  I'm not talking about the print lines or resolution of the print, I'm talking about even when the lines are sanded off, you can still instinctively tell it was printed.

Someone still had to do some level of work to make the printed one, definitely the glazing and firing. They just picked a different method of forming it. One can usually tell when something is extruded, wheel thrown, slip cast, slab built, coil built, etc. Different tools for different folks. All can be done well, all can be done poorly. Every process has its benefits and its shortcomings, which is why we have so many different processes.

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Just now, neilestrick said:

This gets to the heart of it. Your issue is not with the process, it's with how the process is being used.

There may be some truth to that, but I also believe the entire thing is lazy.  And you're also misinformed about materials.  In the beginning it was 3d printed plastic masters that were made into plaster molds, and this process is still used quite a bit because it's simple for mass production (which is the goal).  And then things moved into "diy" extruder clay bodies loaded into hoppers.  Now there are actual systems designed to the point where you don't need to know anything about the material.  So you buy a white mix or a red mix or whatever, mix and load.  I've seen someone answer the question "is that porcelain or stoneware" with "I have no idea".  I mean come on.  

But yeah. As things progress, you'll be able to print fired ceramic without the use of a kiln.  And as things progress further you'll subscribe to a bed bath and beyond monthly furniture kit where your home printer just prints out a new set of dinnerware every month or a new vase, or whatever.  No involvement with any sort of artist or creator.  It's coming!  But the machines will be the hero, not the designer.

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1 minute ago, neilestrick said:

Someone still had to do some level of work to make the printed one, definitely the glazing and firing. They just picked a different method of forming it. One can usually tell when something is extruded, wheel thrown, slip cast, slab built, coil built, etc. Different tools for different folks. All can be done well, all can be done poorly. Every process has its benefits and its shortcomings, which is why we have so many different processes.

If that's the case, why does the printed one still look empty.

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