What's the "Resolution Gap"?

3D Printed Art Revamps Relationship Between Art & Tech

3D Printed Art

Art exhibit “Cost of Living” utilizes 3D printing to create gruesome social commentary, and puts a new spin on “original” art that will shock tech-lovers.

Art changes with time and now one artist are turning the idea of art on its head – with 3D printing technology. Josh Kline’s exhibit “Cost of Living (Aleyda)” is featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art. And it’s not at all what it first seems (and it seems pretty crazy at first).

The “Cost of Living” is an image of what it means to be a janitorial worker in the modern age. Kline not only interviewed workers but created 3D models of particular body parts, 3D printed them and assembled them into art.

Meet Aleyda at the 3D Printed Exhibit, "Cost of Living" (Image: Filip Wolak)
Meet Aleyda at the 3D Printed Exhibit, “Cost of Living” (Image: Filip Wolak)

Yes. Body Parts.

Aleyda is a housekeeper at the Rivington Hotel. Rather than a print of her entire body, she is dissected. She has become moving parts that do a job. Her hand has a bottle of cleaner at the ready. Her feet are ready to move up and down the halls. But it doesn’t stop there.

The exhibit is also a large commentary on technology. Associate Curator at the Whitney, Christopher Lew, explains that it also raises the question of who is really benefiting from technology?

Curator Lew discussing the "Cost of Living" (Image: Filip Wolak)
Curator Lew discussing the “Cost of Living” (Image: Filip Wolak)

The Kicker? These 3D Printed Pieces Are Stand-Ins For the Real Art

Kline, of course, realizes that technology will continue to develop. He recognizes the “resolution gap” as he calls it, between his actual perfect design file and the resulting print. As 3D printing and design develops, the existing body parts and exhibit pieces may be swapped for the newest model.

In 2008 Whitney’s Replication Committee was formed to something truly forward-thinking. The conservators, curators, archivists, a lawyer, and a registrar come together to determine when a piece of art is beyond traditional restoring methods. As printing becomes more widespread, there will no doubt be an increase in its usage in the arts. While there may not be a 3D printing Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre (hopefully that never happens), it may play unexpected roles in restoration.

Read more at the Whitney’s page on the exhibit here. (It’s totally worth it!)