Part of this project (Materials Migrations) sought to establish how and why artists work with additive manufacturing and what the limitations of using the available technologies are. Along with face to face interviews, a number of artists and designers completed a questionnaire on the same topic (about 50 in total), aiming to establish what the most commonly used materials and techniques are at the moment. This data informed the subsequent printing of the reference collection of objects for the project.
Aside from the technical information that was gathered, these encounters nurtured discussions regarding the nature of the original object and how the future preservation of these might be dealt with in a world where a new copy can be manufactured at any time. There were differing perspectives on this, with some artists believing the validity of the artwork exists in the design of their digital file and others treating the physical object as the work of art.
The intention of these discussions was to allow us to better understand how Rapid Prototypes may be best cared for as they enter museums in increasing numbers and what questions need to be asked and data collected from the makers in order to do this. One of the outcomes of Materials Migrations will be the production of a ‘Best Practice’ guide for the care of RP objects in museums, a first step towards a comprehensive understanding of the material properties and degradation rates of these artefacts.
We would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in our survey and interviews.