This episode was recorded at Cliff’s studio, with all four of us present and correct.
Ian and Cliff have worked together and separately in the industry for a long time – Ian’s credits include Little Shop Of Horrors, Alien 3, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, Fury and Dr Who.
Cliff racks up an impressive listing on IMDb with Hellraiser (1987), Lair of the White Worm, Black Hawk Down, World War Z and 28 Days Later.
It was a hefty chat that we split into two parts as it was so long, but also they divided into two clear conversations which lent themselves to being broken in two. We had a great time recording and producing this one and we hope you get a kick out of it too. It’s not often Todd and I get to be in the same room when we record so getting to do this was a dream.
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In the episode, Todd mentions an IBM Selectric typewriter that had this amazing golf-ball like type ‘typeball’ head that replaced the individual ‘typebars’ and punched the letters out as you typed.
Although not as much a leap as word processors, it no doubt was an appreciated improvement on previous models and you would notice the benefits if you had been using the previous model.
Much the same is in the workshop, where you can feel the benefit of improvements as well as being keenly aware of setbacks or teething problems that new solutions may offer.
I know when I started using silicone, all I did was complain about how it was different to foam which I knew and trusted. I really disliked it. This new stuff hadn’t acquired enough space in my mind yet to be taken seriously and yet now, I use it every week without thinking and it seems to me way easier than foam ever was.
At the moment of discovery, the new is taken as a novelty but over time those ‘new’ things which offer real benefit will stay around, be adopted and become part of the scenery. Methods are incorporated and language changes with their introduction. Of course, not everything new stays around – separating the wheat from the chaff and all that – but new things are always cropping up.
Is typing a novel on a laptop still writing if fifty years prior, you would have done the same thing on a clattering typewriter? What is the typist to the scribe with their quill 300 years before that? Building up shapes in soft clay and chipping away chunks of marble with a chisel are different processes, but both can be seen as sculpting if the artist is trying to render something specific. Making shapes with these two methods uses different tools and techniques (one additive, building up the clay gradually the over subtractive, hacking away and paring down a large mass into something smaller) but digital is something new altogether. Right now it is called sculpting because that is what we relate it to, but maybe the language around creativity will change as new things become part of the fabric.
Once the initial distraction of the interface, the tools and the requirements of geometry are understood then it becomes once again an exercise in rendering a desired shape and form. You will focus on what you are trying to convey and doubtless will be frustrated with the lack of ease with which it comes.
Working on a few things in the workshop this week, we have been thinking about the changing face of the workflow and what it means to us as more things become possible through digital means. It was sparked by thoughts about whether digital sculpting is still ‘sculpting’, and what areas we are assisted in with digital ease.
Do we then have freedom and time to push in other directions and do some things to a higher standard than before because we have been relieved of the burdens which had no alternative in the past? Certainly, the working day is no shorter, the stress levels remain as high and the demands of work seem as present as ever – so there is little ease which we calculate through these new methods.
We fill in any gaps they may make with eagerness to make something more with what we have. Sculpt with symmetry on so you can block out a shape quicker, meaning you can spend more time refining and detailing. It seems you will always grow to fill your boots, no matter how big they are.
Once scanning becomes more affordable and as commonplace as photography, then we will likely see a huge uptake and standardisation of techniques and materials – but it certainly doesn’t mean that practical work is less important. One thing we have noticed on 3D Printer Facebook groups is how many people are unfamiliar with mould-making, and it is quite wonderful to be able to help out there in a forum where otherwise I only ask questions.
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