The Autodesk Art Gallery in San Francisco is one of the revolutionary art presentations in the world today.

The first thing to comprehend is the concept of three dimensional prints.

casanf87197-autodesk350We all know what a conventional print or painting is.  It is ink or paint on a flat surface.  We do this every time we print out something with our computer printers.  Painters do the same, putting oil or some other liquid on a flat two-dimensional surface.

Now, consider a new concept, a “three-dimensional” print.  Imagine that your computer printer cartridge could float in a cube-like space.  Imagine that it would be printing a three-dimensional design that you had created on your computer screen.  It would put down a first layer of print on a piece of paper, then move slightly higher and put down another layer on top of that.  With each pass the print head would move slightly upwards in the cubic, box-like space.  Consider that the medium might not be ink, but perhaps a liquid plastic or liquid metal, possibly with many colors.

With layer upon layer, the floating printhead could gradually create an object, a three-dimensional object, a kind of sculpture.

That’s what you can see at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco.

The printing device is directed by Autodesk software, which is used to make designs of objects in three dimensions.

First you make the design of something like the new Bay Bridge crossing San Francisco Bay.

Then you make a “printout” of the design in the cube-like space, and you end up with a kind of sculpture.

The artistic opportunities are obvious.

The design-model possibilities are apparent.

Think of the other possibilities.  What about a new heart valve, a one-of-a-kind final product, created just for you, with the exact dimension the doctor ordered?

Autodesk software is a leader in design conceptualization and presentation.  Now there are printing devices that can replicate the design in a solid form.

I saw a fairly large new design for a motorcycle, for example, that was “printed” in this manner at actual size.

I saw many small objects, some quite intricate, with interlocking parts, all “printed” out in this manner.  If the object was extremely intricate, it could be created with an inert material in the unspecified spaces.  The inert material in the cube-like printing area could then be washed away with an acid bath.

I concentrate here just on the physical creation of art objects at the Autodesk Gallery, but there are other modes.  The software allows the presentation of design ideas from many digital perspectives, such as different times of day for shadows on buildings, or seeing a design from multiple perspectives, twisting it around in front of you on the screen.

The Autodesk Gallery is not a conventional art gallery.  It is a showcase of objects created from Autodesk design software.  It celebrates the design process, how an idea can be turned into reality through design.  The gallery shows how this visualizing technology plays a critical role in significant design and engineering efforts.

The gallery is open to the public on only one day a month, the first Wednesday, from 1-5 p.m.

There are plaques on the wall near each exhibit to explain the objects and the process.

I saw more than 20 exhibits, from a giant Lego dinosaur to digital stone sculptures.

Autodesk Gallery at One Market
Market Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 356-0700


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