THE BEAUTY OF A LIVING THING...
During a Residency at Art StUrban in Switzerland I worked with Artist-Engineer, Heinz Aeschlimann and honed many skills including metal fabrication and digital applications for metal work. What began as a somewhat peculiar experiment soon became what I now consider the highlight of the Residency. Heinz encouraged me to play with MIG welding in a very non-traditional technique that included balancing added distance between the welding gun and the metal surface, wire speed, and voltage to create “spaghetti” like welding. Having professional welders in my family, I thought this to be an especially eccentric “technique.” Much to my surprise, through nuance and a couple days of practice I began successfully modeling hollow sculptural forms in an additive and layered manor that mimics 3D printing using only the spool of MIG wire as my sculptural medium. Through a series of studio experiments and visits to very elaborate operations in the Swiss steel manufacturing industry, I began to cross-apply principles used in automated fabrication and 3D printing with manual MIG welding. This led to the development of new figurative works which have subsequently been exhibited at Art Basel, Art St.Urban, and in multiple private collections in Switzerland. This technical development not only served to improve my welding abilities but provided highly valuable principles for training artists to combine manual and digital methods for creating sculpture. The work I consider most successful so far using this technique is in which I freehand 3D printed an incomplete and partial figure leaving the process overtly visible to reinforce a quote from theoretical physicist Carl Sagan, “The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.”