2015-04-11 11.26.53


As the sampler was to hip-hop so 3D printing is to sculpture and designed objects. Open source 3D printing has paved the way for a revolution in making things. Desktop digital fabrication is bringing the cost of failure down by speeding up the prototyping process and collapsing the distance between idea and product, problem and solution, designer and end user. The outcome of this revolution is a sea change in the relationship between the engineer and their audience. 3D printing and scanning platforms are a nexus reaching back into the past and teleporting objects of antiquity around the globe, reproducing and sharing them for everyone to touch and hold in their hands. Just as blogs disrupted publishing, and smart phones changed communications so digital fabrication is transforming the world of objects and the ecosystem that surrounds them.

My work explores the production, transmission, dissemination and reception of cultural works as experienced through the lens of digital forms of fabrication. Through several different trajectories i am exploring how this profound shift in making and manufacturing offers new opportunities to produce works, distribute them and engage with new audiences and communities. I look for points of intersection or fracturing where several different ways of thinking can be collapsed to produce new forms. Publishing, for example, has served many societies as a efficient way to record, archive and share knowledge of all types and forms. The printed page has had a vital role in the history of ideas one that is perhaps giving way now to the pixel and lcd screen. As publishing migrates to screens and web pages over (word for inky pages) so the physical becomes a rare commodity. In this arena 3D printing pages, fusing upon them textures and surfaces – and forming them into books is a logical, if slightly absurd, progression of the form. The 3D printed book is an opportunity to bring tactile experiences into the realm of scholarly thought, one that encourages people to “touch the art” – to have a visceral, intimate experience with it.

Tom Burtonwood is an artist and educator based in the Chicago area. He was the first Ryan Center Artist-in-Residence at The Art Institute of Chicago. Selected projects include Orihon and Folium “the world’s first” 3D printed books. His 3D printed publications are included in the holdings of the following libraries and artist book collections, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas J Watson Library; The Boston Athanaeum, Boston, MA;The Insitut for Aestetik, Aarhus, Denmark; Yale University Library, New Haven, CT;  MIT Library, Cambridge, MA;The Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

His 3D printed art works have been exhibited at The Compound Gallery, Oakland, CA; Northeastern Illinois University Gallery, Chicago, IL; The University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL; Bruce High Quality Foundation University, NY, NY; Firecat Projects, Chicago, IL; Wright State University, Dayton, OH; Purdue University Gallery, West Lafayette, IN; The Printing Museum, Houston, TX; Terrain Biennial, Oak Park, IL; Medium Cool Book Fair, Chicago, IL; Fuseworks, Brooklyn, NY; Front Room Gallery Brooklyn, NY; New Capital in Chicago, IL; The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; Shemer Art Center, Phoenix, AZ and Printed Matter, NY, NY.

Burtonwood has presented his work and demonstrated 3D printing at numerous events and venues including The United States Department of Labor Administration, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Ideas Week, kCura, Pecha Kucha Chicago, 6018 North and Columbia College Chicago. He is a contributor to Make Magazine and his reviews are included in the Make Magazine guides to 3D Printing 2014 and 2015. Burtonwood is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently working on a new 3D printed book project with Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson. It will be an architectural reference book of Louis Sullivan’s early decorative ornaments. http://tomburtonwood.com