Disobe-dient Objects

Morehshin Allahyari

In light of the themes found within A Tradition of Revolution, we thought it would be interesting to explore the technological and material ways that sculpture is changing at this moment. To that end, we asked the New York-based Iranian artist Morehshin Allahyari to describe one of her latest projects. Her modeled, 3D-printed sculptural reconstructions of ancient artifacts destroyed by ISIS, titled Material Speculation: ISIS, have received widespread curatorial and press attention and have been exhibited worldwide.

Sometime in 2011 and somewhere on the internet, I came across a video of an object getting 3D printed. I remember being mesmerized by both the technological potential and poetic possibilities of a digital model becoming a physical object layer by layer. Ever since, I’ve been working on different projects that explore the 3D printer as a metaphor, as a point of departure, as a machine for resistance, and as a tool in making “disobedient objects.”

In 2012, I started to work on a body of work called Dark Matter, which was a series of combined, sculptural 3D-printed objects brought together to form humorous juxtapositions. These objects were all chosen because they are forbidden or taboo to own or use in Iran. What if one could 3D-print these objects by having a 3D printer in their house (as guerrilla/DIY/resistance acts)? How would that change our relationship to the forbidden and censored? Dark Matter then became an inspiration for a three-year collaboration with writer/artist Daniel Rourke in building a movement called Additivism (a portmanteau of additive and activism). In 2015, we released a manifesto encouraging artists, activists, scientists, and engineers to “interfere, and reverse-engineer the possibilities encoded into the censored, the invisible, and the radical notion of the 3D printer itself. To endow the printer with the faculties of plastic: condensing imagination within material reality.” Then we published a book called The 3D Additivist Cookbook: a compendium of imaginative, provocative works from over 100 world-leading artists, activists, and theorists. It contains .obj and .stl files for the 3D printer, as well as critical and fictional texts, templates, recipes, (im)practical designs, and methodologies for living in this most contradictory of times.

Morehshin Allahyari, Dark Matter (First Series): #pig #gun, 2013, 3D printed plastic resin, 4 x 8 x 2 inches (approx.)
Cover of The 3D Additivist Cookbook (published 2016) devised and edited by Morehshin Allahyari & Daniel Rourke. The Cookbook can be downloaded for free at additivism.org/cookbook
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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