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"AUTO MOTION" Laurence Gartel's Breakthrough Digital 3D Art Sculpture

3D is the magic word of power for the 2010s


DESIGNING FOR CHANGE: Gartel's First World-Class 3D Sculpture

By Iona Miller, January 6, 2010

Oh I'm newly calibrated. All shiny and clean.
I'm your recent adaptation. Time to redefine me

– Collective Soul, “Better Now”


Material Science-Art


Like any great pop artist, Laurence Gartel is continually redefining himself in an electronic arena evolving at light speed. Creating a "first" in the world of fine art is not easy. But Gartel is not limited in the scope of his vision to what has gone before.  Who knows what subtle cues prompt an artist to move into new territory? It may be a meeting, a brilliant idea, or a whisper from the muse, but once the process is ignited, the project takes on a life of its own.

Gartel is a pathfinder, as he has demonstrated time and again in his cutting edge transmedia creations. He doesn't tell us, but lets the work stand on its own and speak for itself. Its an effortless act which flows forth from unbound genius, designed to celebrate itself.


Though it still sounds like science fiction, 3D digital printing is becoming a reality for designers, engineers and artists, alike. State of the art computer tools still require the master’s touch to create luminous works of art. Strange alloys are new allies in that process.


Gartel unveiled the first pure 3D Computer Generated Sculpture at The National Hotel during ART BASEL WEEK 2009 in Miami Beach. The piece was not carved and 3D scanned, but created from thin air. It poses the question, “What is a sculpture and what is a print?


Gartel’s answer lies in hitting "Command P" on the keyboard: The sculpture is really a print in plastic media. However, it took nine months to produce, and 3 ½ weeks to render. It is part of his ongoing “AUTO MOTION” series, recently exhibited and acclaimed at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Edison State College in Ft. Myers, Florida.


“Auto Motion” is arguably the world’s first fully-digital 3D fine art sculpture by a renown digital master, created from digital files using a 3D digital printer. In the past, Gartel has printed his artwork on designer tiles, etched it in bas relief for waterfalls and interior design, and been etched into 3D crystal. But none of it tops his latest. The pure Digital Sculpture erupts from its base with a whole new spatial quality that is thoroughly of this moment.

The process itself remains proprietary, preserving the mystery and magic of creation. The power is in the secret and the secret is in the power of that moment of aesthetic arrest that stops us dead in our tracks with delight and wonder at the emergence of something totally novel. We haven't seen anything like it before. It heralds a vast new potential in design, miraculously without any “laying on of hands.” Yet it is infused with the spirit of its creator.


“The invited guests, and art aficionados of the GARTEL sculpture unveiling were absolutely stunned,” said Norsham Blasko, President of The Connector Group who organized the presentation. “Mr. Gartel has been a pioneer of this art form for over thirty years,” declared Ms. Blasko. “Gartel defined it then, and he is redefining now.”


“What is equally amazing is how the young artists have so much respect for GARTEL,” acknowledged Blasko. “He is a true legend and deeply respected,” stated Carly Ivan Garcia, an emerging digital artist from California who was part of the evening’s festivities at the National Hotel. “He really did change the world,” said Robert Harris, another emerging talent. “He is doing it all over again.” “Absolutely amazing, 35 years later.”




Rapid Prototype Printing


“We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.” --Marshall McLuhan


No single tool has exceeded the capacity of the microchip for shaping our electrified world through what Frank Lloyd Wright called the spiritual marriage of form and function. Changing our world utterly, it has given birth to the whole spectrum of digital media – a vast potential that is still being unpacked by artists and audience, alike. Digital 3D is breakthrough technology that moves beyond modeling, simulation, replication and fabrication into the visionary realm of fine art.  Applications include direct metal printing, as well as other high tech composites.


Every media requires that we bend our will to its capacities and limitations. We must express ourselves within its constraints. The magic word of power for the 2010s is “3-D.” We’ve seen this in the unprecedented success of the blockbuster film “Avatar” and the imitators sure to follow. 3D TV is the hot-ticket item of the emerging decade. But the “first” of any new genre must always stand alone in its class as a window to the future. It cannot be usurped.


This is so for Gartel’s breakthrough work, “Auto Motion” sculpture. Known for his digital pioneering print and film/animation work, Gartel began “thinking” in 3-D at the end of the “Naughties” decade and found the technology had finally caught up with his vision once again, as it did in the mid-70s in the birth of digital media.


Nevertheless, simply having the technical means at one’s disposal doesn’t mean you can create great art. It requires solving not only the technical problems, but designing, structuring and creating a balance that encodes our current needs for a unique cultural experience.


When finished, the solution must be beautiful or it is meaningless. Further, technical disaster can strike at any point of the expensive rendering process, just as the wrong stroke can ruin a fine marble sculpture, or like a bronze casting can go awry ruining the wax model. Delicate digital sculpture can also be destroyed during removal from the mother matrix.


3D printing is the process that makes physical objects from virtual CAD models or math files.  There are many different ways to do it, but they all work by building up models one layer at a time.  It's not a carving process. Computer-controlled mills can be used to cut a design out of a solid block of material, but that method doesn't work well for designs which have a lot of undercutting where casting is out of the question.


This is an additive process using a printer that uses “plastic” rather than “ink.” Millimeter by millimeter the printer passes a coating, building up one layer at a time to make the object. The photographic quality, resolution, and detail is like nothing anyone has ever witnessed in a three dimensional form.


Different 3D printing processes use different materials for “the build” in proprietary ways. The burgeoning market is highly competitive. Each layer of the toolpath prints a fine addition to the form, creatinging it from the void. It builds high resolution layers to produce ‘burnable’ models in plastic, metal or wax. It has a vocabulary of its own: stereolithography, metal-printing, laser-activated binders, and airspace, for example.






Mobius Strip Racetrack


“When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” -- R. Buckminster Fuller


Gartel’s digitally-informed solution for modeling the dreamscape weaves together psychology and technology. His answer to the problem is direct. It addresses the audience as well as his current creative passion for supercars, making a new visual language accessible because it is already understood. And he does so with the magic that requires no overt physical expression, but one that fuses the ephemera of computing power and vision into a lasting moment of art history. He’s done it before and he did it again, creating a masterwork while breaking new design ground.


It isn’t easy to wrap your mind around the abstraction of an algorithm in virtual or visual terms. 3D modeling is a tedious, technical process with a steep learning curve. You have to decode it. Yet, the work retains his undaunted signature and mystique without being obscure, trendy or stylish. It is as if his works lifted from the 2D of print or film to inhabit the multidimensional world in which we live and breathe. It inhabits the same accessible space we do. We know it is right, because it is, indeed, beautiful.


New home model 3D printing prototypes on your destop

3D printer under $1K video from WIRED



LAURENCE GARTEL has made digital tracks throughout the art and commercial world for decades and plans to continue doing so. "AUTO MOTION," the deluxe book is the latest in his long series of published works. He is included in numerous anthologies and histories of art as one of the most influential pioneers of digital media. He has been highly praised by some of the best art critics in the world. He is particularly beloved in his native Miami where he is a fixture from the hottest clubs of the South Beach scene to Palm Beach. He has shown in many prestigious museums worldwide and had numerous one-man shows on virtually every continent. (Photo by Denise Felice)




GARTEL Museum:

Virtual Tour of AUTO MOTION at Rauchenberg Museum -