Artists are always finding new ways to create and what is more exciting than a new medium? When photography was invented, traditional painters had to rethink not only their medium, but their subject matter. Painting traditional portraits or landscapes was no longer necessary. Photography could capture the moment as it was and painters and artists had to contend with this new reality whether they liked it or not. Enter Pablo Picasso: Picasso and his contemporaries saw the need for a new art. So he painted people with more than one view in mind: front facing and profiles in one painting, abstract scenes, bright vivid colors, and geometric shapes. People were outraged: How could this be art? But Picasso’s genius is not in recreating scenes that photography could capture. His genius is in allowing us to see more than one side of things, to question what we consider beautiful, to have a new appreciation for the dream-like and unconscious desires that are at the root of our humanity.
These days, our newest medium is 3D printing. This is an exciting opportunity for artists as the possibility of designing 3D art to engage viewers becomes an active act. Viewers can touch the 3D object and walk around the art. How is this different from sculpture? It much like sculptures of traditional methods with an added bonus: Complex designs with cavities and overhangs can be created that are not possible to create any other way. Since 3D printing is an additive method, these cavities can be printed layer by layer with support material. The traditional methods of sculpting, molding, or welding has its limits which do not apply to 3D printing. This means that designs previously impossible to make can now be created.
Artists such as Asher Nahmias are already using 3D printing to create math art, which uses mathematical equations to create exciting sculptures. Ioan Florea is creating 3D printed paintings that can touched. Neri Oxman is using 3D printing for her sculptures, bringing together natural and synthetic designs. Flickr has a group that shares 3D print failures as art.