3D Digital: Here and Now

Bennington Museum • Bennington, VT • benningtonmuseum.org • Through June 15, 2016

By: Arlene Distler

Stranger Visions Sample 4 NYC closeup

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Stranger Visions, 4 NYC (detail), 2012–13, found genetic materials, custom software, 3D prints, documentation. Photo: Heather Dewey-Hagborg.

3D Digital: Here and Now brings together examples from the world of art, design, and manufacturing that have been conceived of, or fabricated with, the aid of three-dimensional digital technologies, such as CAD (computer assisted design), CNC (computer numeric control) milling, laser cutting, and 3D printing. It particularly puts a spotlight on works that were generated in the Bennington area, which, in many cases, have then gone on to international recognition.

Compiled by curator Jamie Franklin in collaboration with Bennington college faculty member Jon Isherwood, the show includes over 40 pieces ranging from Bennington alumnus Güvenç Özel’s otherworldly Martian Habitat and Giovanni Pagnotta’s award-winning Z® chair to NAHANCO’s (National Hanger Company’s) ubiquitous digitally designed and manufactured coat hangers.

This is the Bennington Museum’s latest move to bring contemporary work into its galleries. Best known for its Grandma Moses collection and early American crafts, with 3D Digital the museum takes a bracing plunge into the waters of early 21st century art and design.

Besides the industrial design work, the show features a marble sculpture by Isherwood, who has introduced digital processes into his classes, and Bennington visiting instructor Karolina Kawiaka’s sculpture-installation, Land Where I Was Born, along with site-specific installation pieces by several of her students.

Made from Vermont maple, Land Where I Was Born was designed with CAD then milled with CNC. Kawiaka calls it a “topographic sink” with the inside of the sink’s bowl mechanically carved according to computer-fed information that reproduces the hills and vales of her native environs.

Bennington College alumnus Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s piece, taken from her project Stranger Visions is startling. Based on extracted DNA of hair, skin, saliva, and nails that she collects from places like the New York City subway, she creates lifelike masks whose features are determined by computer software visualization of the DNA material. The result that may or may not be accurate is spooky, seeming to take on a life of its own. The project, made between 2012 and 2013, has brought international acclaim to Dewey-Hagborg and has spurred debate on the issues of privacy and profiling.

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