While 3D printing has many advantages it also limits you. The technology is meant to be quick, repeatable and precise. The forms may differ but each time the machine repeats the same action, extruding layer after layer. Repeating itself until an idea becomes a thing. Random factors are excluded. When making a 3D printer or developing a 3D printing process, increasing the level of repeatability and precision is key. But this also means that 3D printing sometimes feels rather “kil.” Kil is a Dutch word meaning cold, clinical, without feeling, an absence of humanity to some extent.
By making these machines that make, we push the human to the background and place the machine front and center. Paradoxically 3D printing lets more people make but simultaneously removes them from the process. We often don’t touch an object before it is done.
By introducing elements of randomness I wanted to reintroduce error, a human touch, stochasticity. I felt that the process craved some serendipity, joy through intentional failure. I wanted repeatability and precision but found I also needed mistakes.
– Oliver van Herpt
Kristina Riska is a Finnish artist who has been exploring, defying and redefining the traditional tenets of ceramic sculpture since the 1980s. Her unorthodox, large scale stoneware and artworks, which are inspired by nature and the properties of light and shadow, embody her rigorous, physical approach to her work.
Riska describes her process as a foray into the unknown, and that with each unplanned, instinctive manipulation of the clay she also establishes a non-physical “internal space.” She describes this space as a repository for her qualities of quietude, serenity and concentration, and also for a very specific memory of the interplay of light and shade cast upon her from the bars of her childhood cot. In an interview with Rae Verkkoranta from the Embassy of Finland in Brussels Riska discusses this process of transference: “… out of all the thoughts that I have had, every touch of the hand, all the ambient sound… these things [sic] latch onto the work,” giving each piece in the exhibition the intangible quality of her own history.
The ethereal, elusive qualities of Riska’s pieces also reflect her ideals of sustainability. She meticulously avoids the superfluous and works with a precision that conveys a striking effect with seemingly very little material.
Much of the work of Pakistan-born British artist Halima Cassell (1975) springs from a repeated pattern within a circle. It combines strong geometric elements with recurrent motifs and architectural principles. Cassell’s varied, multi-cultural background is tangibly present in every piece. Her carved and fired ceramics utilize clays from around the world, resulting in a truly universal object that speaks to every human: from clay, we come and to clay, we return. Her dramatic lines and angles likewise manifest the universal language of numbers. This art refuses to stand still, sometimes even creating an unsettling sense of movement.
To achieve these effects she uses heavily grogged clay that allows her to work on a large scale and utilize relatively thick surfaces carved to the desired depth. She concentrates on simple forms to maximize the impact of the complex surface patterns in combination with strongly contrasting contours. The result is a sometimes-fearful symmetry, yet an architecture where the play of light is used to marvelous effect. This is work with compelling drama and dynamism employing complex surface patterns in combination with heavily contrasting contours and themes and variations. If this were music, it would be Bach at his best.
Jeanne Opgenhaffen’s unique genius captures even the grandest, most powerful universal forces of evolving nature and presents them undiminished to the viewer on a small scale. Her inspired use of intricate, organic repetition, confined within the rectangle provides us with a precise yet utterly comprehensive definition of natural forces, the landscapes they shape and indeed even the creatures that crawl, swim or fly there.
The artist assembles hundreds—sometimes thousands—of delicately and individually shaped pieces of porcelain into a whole. Each is related its neighbor, but sings with a different voice, a different resonance. Opgenhaffen combines them into rhythmic compositions that speak to us about the nature of space, movement, growth and change. Indeed, she shows us the evolution of the universe on the micro scale, sometimes in white, other times in subtle shades of color.
“I try to express my feelings within the boundary of a square. I hope to show the essence of strong movement in a simple way, made with single basic elements.” What she is pursuing, it seems to me, is nothing less than life of the entire universe writ small enough to hang on a wall. That must certainly be impossible. Yet there it hangs, eloquently declaring great truths about where we are and where we once were and where we might yet be. This is art that freezes both depth and movement into a porcelain moment in time.
Jeanne Opgenhaffen was born in Nieuwkerken-Waas, Belgium, in 1938. She studied at Koninklijke Academie and National Hoger Institute, Antwerpen. Her work with natural and colored porcelain is widely exhibited and occupies pride of place in major museums and private collections around the world.
Erna Aaltonen is a Finnish studio potter renowned worldwide for her hand-built sculptural vessels. Her simple elegant forms of coarse stoneware clay with rubbed oxides on their rough, pitted surfaces are for many collectors the very face of the contemporary Finnish aesthetic.
Her work is marked by a supremely elegant conceptual minimalism. “Round, abstract, sculptural forms fascinate me. They have always been central to my work. I always build my works by hand from thinly rolled, ribbon like strips of clay that I join edge to edge. The work progresses slowly, layer by layer. I use neither the potter’s wheel nor molds. I have always been drawn to a variety of colors and they figure prominently in my work, especially the colors and surfaces of the glazes and the transformation that takes place in the kiln. Ceramic art is for me the ideal opportunity to combine form, color and surface structure into one continuous whole.”
In Stratigraphic Manufactury, Unfold builds on their Stratigraphic Porcelain series started in 2010 with their internationally acclaimed installation l’Artisan Électronique and explores methods of manufacturing and distributing design in the dawning era of digital production. Stratigraphic Manufactury is a new model for the distribution and digital manufacturing of porcelain, which includes local small manufacturing units that are globally connected. One that embraces local production variations and influences.