Sarah Redden

Blue Rabbit Iteration II

Week 6


WdCt: 1024

The Poetics of “Non-jects”

Marcel Proust once wrote, “[n]ovelty is never so effective as a repetition that manages to suggest a fresh truth” (Lopes 52). This is interesting at the present moment because 3D printing creates and embodies both novelty and repetition. I am seeking a fresh truth in the materiality of 3D printed waste by continuing to work around a handful of my original questions, such as, it is important to question the rapid production of 3D printing? In a time where almost any thing can be made, is it important, now more than ever, to attempt at making no-thing? If nothing doesn’t or can’t exist, can it be made to exist? Is 3D printing potentially a very appropriate medium to explore this through?

Lev Manovich, a Professor of Cultural Analytics at the European Graduate School (ESG CITATION), and “one of the leading theorists of digital culture and media art” is quoted by Warren Sacks in an essay called Aesthetics of Information Visualization. Manovich writes that “[i]f Romantic artists thought of certain phenomena and effects as un-representable, as something which goes beyond the limits of human sense and reason, data visualization artists aim at precisely the opposite: to map such phenomena into a representation whose scale is comparable to the scales of human perception and cognition” (124). It seems that out of any time in history, out of any medium of making art, that computer art, more specifically 3D printing, could produce a valid exploration of materializing that which has been previously perceived as impossible to materialize.

France and Hénaut, in an article called Art, Therefore Entropy, describe a situation in which a blank canvas is perceived as expressing or possessing very little complexity, a canvas with one brush stroke on it conveys only a little more, yet a canvas mixed with many colors until the tone reaches that of a dull grey possess infinite complexity, or “white noise”. In this there is inherent complexity and simultaneous minimalism. Could the materiality and process of 3D printing be analogous to the complexity just described?

There is a current genre of art that is exploring complexity in process and material, it is called glitch art. Glitch art “mythologizes the computer error as its ultimate muse and most potent tool”, creating pieces of work that manipulate the functionality of standardized software. Some of these artists are actually using bugs they’ve found in software and some are just “introducing noisy data to functional algorithms or applying these algorithms in unconventional ways” (Temkin). The artists who are “introducing noisy data” are essentially making the machines make mistakes, whereas the artists who are using true bugs are working with and curating error itself.

In my search for photographs of 3D printed glitch art I have found many images, but very few if any that conveyed the misprinted object as an intentional object. Most of the photographs of print errors were calling for viewers to diagnose what potentially went wrong in the print process so that the error could be rectified. These images were presented as a means of problem solving, not as the presentation of problem objects. These glitchy prints have a place on the World Wide Web, but it is not so much a creative space of representation, as it an object in a space that needs fixing.

I have encountered the word “space” many times in my research, whether it were digital space, maker spaces, outer space or bodily space. In encountering this word so often I felt it might be interesting to revisit The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard (1958). Bachelard was born in Northern France in 1884, and died in the autumn of 1962. He got a BA in Science, became a professor of chemistry and physics, until 1922 when he turned his focus more towards philosophy and poetry (ESG CITATION). The Poetics of Space was first published in French in1958 and was translated to English in 1964.

The book is kind of a meditation of the everyday, of the beauty and unusualness of commonplace, and a metaphorical rendering of domestic space. This text is very significant in that so often Bachelard seems to be playing with the metaphor of playing with metaphor in poetry, so the text lends itself in many directions, an Indra’s Net so to speak. I focused in the chapter Intimate Immensity. I began to think that the act of 3D printing could be creating a kind of intimate immensity, with open source software connecting many people and their thoughts in maker spaces or their own homes. Through this connection we may “discover that immensity in the intimate domain is intensity, an intensity of being…It is the principle of “correspondences” to receive the immensity of the world, which they transform into intensity of our intimate being.” (Bachelard 193).

Since the first iteration I have been intrigued and focused around the question of what can be made out of the objects that come out of the 3D printers that are “ugly” and useless? Through my observational experiences of the past six weeks and through research, I have learned that the proper printer itself cannot easily make what ever it is that can be made out of the waste objects of the 3D printer. I have arrived at the notion that in order to discover what can potentially be made out of the waste objects that come out of the 3D printer, I may first have to explore what can definitely not be made by a 3D printer. By working from the edge of the metaphysical or material potentiality of PLA and 3D printers as creators of objects and just as often as creators of “non-jects”, I am finding juxtapositions are key in getting to the heart of this matter. Intimacy and immensity, freedom and restriction, every thing and no thing, complexity and simplicity, beauty and error, a poetic approach of contrast seems key. In the final weeks of this project I aim, through process and further research “to give an object poetic space” as Bachelard writes, to do so “is to give it more space than it has objectivity; or, better still, it is following the expansion of its intimate space” (202).


Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. The Orion Press, Inc, 1964. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts. Margot Lovejoy, Victoria Vesna, Christiane Paul. Books. N.p. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

“Gaston Bachelard – French Philosopher – Biography.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

“JSTOR: Leonardo, Vol. 27, No. 3 (1994), Pp. 219-221.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

“Lev Manovich – Professor of Media Theory – Biography.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

Lopes, Dominic. A Philosopy of Computer Art. USA and Canada: Routledge, 2010. Print.

“Non-Object Oriented Art.” N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.