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Approaching the Nanofax Singularity
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Approaching the Nanofax Singularity


“Everything the name implies,” says Klaus, “and significantly less.”

“What’s that supposed to imply?”

“Nanofax AG provides a technologies that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance. Inside certain rather massive limitations, of course. A child’s doll, placed in a Fortunate Dragon Nanofax unit in London, will be reproduced in the Fortunate Dragon Nanofax unit in New York-”

From All Tomorrow’s Parties, by William Gibson.
Published by Putnam in 1999

The theme for the tenth edition of Version Fest is Territories and Infrastructure. Infrastructure is represented in our lives by fiber optic cables delivering the data that keeps us trucking. It is the faucet delivering water to our house, the asphalt we drive on, the flight program our pilot requires. Infrastructure is the bridges, the networks, the grocery stores. It is the logistical machine the keeps modern day life rolling on. But infrastructure is not just the pipes, and the tubes, and the faucets that provide culture, but the material and approaches that manufacture these pipes, tubes, cables and what not. Infrastructure is the tools we use to create.

Recently a new raft of technologies have entered the digital domain, these tools for replicating and manufacturing have currently quickly changed the way we believe about making things. For artists these days these strategies and techniques represent a new infrastructure.

Approaching the Nanofax Singuarity is a two day symposium featuring presentations and exhibits by artists and designers using the most current techniques in digital fabrication and replication. Hardware once the sole domain of engineers and scientists have turn out to be a lot a lot more accessible in the last five years. Advanced by open source technologies, dedicated hacktivists, tinkerers and homebrew engineers have brought this infrastructure from the lofty heights of the machine shop into the alt space network. Now it is feasible for designers with a small budget and workspace to make use of tools and gear such as three-d printers, RepRap, CNC machines, three-d scanners, laser cutters and so forth.

So whether or not it’s producing the tools to make the art, or making the art with the tools we’ve produced, or producing the art with open source tools, there exist many possibilities and options for designers and artists to interact with new digital fabrication techniques. Approaching the Nanofax Singuarity (ATNS) seeks to show case some of these artists currently functioning in this field here in Chicago.

Margarita Benitez performs with fiber, sound and technological components in her practice, she will talk about her new project osloom an open supply jacquard loom she is currently establishing. DIYLILCNC is a collaborative project by artists Chris Reilly and Taylor Hokanson. Their project is a low cost open source DIY three axis CNC mill. Chris and Taylor will demonstrate the machine and talk about CNC technologies in common, some of the shortcomings of the present state of CNC and how these are addressed by open-supply hardware projects like the DIYLILCNC. We’ll also go over the specs of the DIYLILCNC, giving information about how it is constructed and its functions. (f)utility projects are a collaboration among Paola Cabal, Michael Genge and Christopher Grieshaber. Earlier projects incorporate Depth of Field at present on view at SubCity Projects in Chicago. (f)utility projects will be making the ATNS pavilion at the NFO XPO. The pavilion will host exhibited projects by ATNS artists. Claudia Hart produces styles for sublime landscape gardens often containing expressive and sensual female bodies meant to interject emotional subjectivity into what is normally the overly-determined Cartesian world of digital design and style. Mik Kastner and Brian Matthew are members of the Bio Art Network they will speak about their “bio printer” a fast prototyping machine that will generate organic sculptures from plant and animal cells. Patrick Lichty is a technologically-based conceptual artist, writer, independent curator, animator for the activist group, The Yes Men, and Executive Editor of Intelligent Agent Magazine. Lichty will exhibit his Pixelbox series, laser reduce LED pieces whose basic look belays an experiment in emergent behavior. Dan Price tag combines sculpture, efficiency and experimental documentary practice. His existing project Tentacle Shelter will be a wearable “shelter” for a child – like a costume/cape/tent created in thick felt. For ATNS Cost will exhibit a laser cut model and prototype for the shelter. Ben Stagl investigates urban space by means of a selection of mediums which includes sculpture, efficiency, video, and installation. Stagl is largely concerned with how human beings continue to address and encounter shared spaces. Numerous of his projects explore concepts of inclusion by means of object, usually involving collaboration and components of participation.

Taken collectively these artists articulate each sides of the coin in terms of digital fabrication. Regardless of whether their project is to make the tools of production and distribute them freely to other folks. Or take up these tools and produce new works via the CNC machine, bio printer, fast prototyper or the laser cutter their operate is at the major edge of modern day manufacturing strategies.

The universe is hacking, it is application, it’s mobile net, it is fast prototyping, it is hardware hacks, the notion of digital infrastructure for artists and designers just goes on and on. The current article in Wired by Chris Anderson points to this momentum and suggests that what Kinkos was to the 80’s and 90’s so rapid prototyping and it’s various cousins will be to the tens or what ever this decade is going to be referred to as.

Tom Burtonwood, April 2010

References:’s_Parties_(novel) material.asp?Bnum=112

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