Questions of materiality are especially important for practitioners from the art and design (making) disciplines working with digital technologies to produce designed objects. In the past decade we have witnessed an unprecedented development and increased accessibility of CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Manufacture) technologies. This has brought about greatly enhanced functionality for traditional design techniques, helping designers in many areas to bring their ideas to fruition with increased speed and productivity. Whilst the pragmatic aspect of increased speed and productivity are important, this research project seeks to explore how the use of industrial technologies to unconventional ends can result in unique forms of output in terms of objects and critical practice that go beyond the individual axioms of art and design disciplines. These technologies facilitate the realisation of objects previously not possible to produce without prohibitive, large-scale commercial investment.
If CAD/CAM and 3D visualisation has freed practitioners from ‘how’ an object is produced, to a position where they can focus on ‘what’ those objects might be (in terms of cultural impact) the research suggests that practitioners in the fields of art and design are entering a stage where they are afforded the opportunity to ask new questions about the cultural context of objects informed by the democratisation of these 3D technologies. This creates a situation where technological development invokes entire new phyla of objects. This research project explores these emergent possibilities for artists/product designers/architects in order to bring about new types of critical/cultural/technological objects into being which both express this evolving production syntax and a developing commitment to innovation at the conceptual design phase.
The PhD project proposes an approach that uses the design of ‘art products’ as a way of provoking reflection on the exploitation of computer technologies as a medium to be critically explored in order to cultivate new interactions between object/audience & product/user. I have borrowed the term ‘designed objects’ for these things (and the title of this blog) from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s newest programme.