Speculative Design Objects & 3D Printing Performance Rituals
3) Dowsing Rod (Water Stick) with embedded Elsewhere collection
4) Orgone Pyramid with embedded Elsewhere collection
4½ ) Incomplete Drone Parts
Materials: ABS Plastic, PLA Plastic, 3D Robot Printer, Elsewhere collection objects including dust, paint chips, string, cobwebs, babydoll plastic, marbles, ribbon, glitter, poker chips, flowers from garden embedded into the 3D print, performance
As an intervention to the rationalism of science and the over-quantified self, I return to my Southern gothic Appalachian roots of storytelling, conjuring, dark humor and “witchy methodologies”. I search back through the healing methods of my grandma and the use of dowsing rods to locate water. I think about all of the other kinds of ancient technologies that have been passed on to me through people who have had a deep relationship with nature, animals and the spiritual world. Simultaneously, I also find the ability for transcendence within the realm of the digital. I often find myself in ecstatic moments of communion, something ritual, spiritual, deeply profound with digital technology—and that is exactly what happened while 3D printing during my residency.
When I use the word technology, I mean: tool. Language, money, bread, iCloud, GenX, and a dowsing rod are all technologies. Appalachian folk magic and the 3D printer are both technology and ask us to believe in what we can’t yet see, in order to make something physically manifest. Were they really so different? Couldn’t they both takes things you couldn’t necessarily see with the naked eye and make them materialize? Didn’t they both need a believer, a user, a programmer, coder, conduit in order to function as a tool? Didn’t they both need bodies?
At the The Forge next to Elsewhere, I 3D printed a dowsing rod, an orgone pyramid and parts of a drone. This process for me was an extreme form of digital intimacy. I sensed the printer as it transformed my digital object into a physical object and I used a kind of printing methodology that can only be described as witchy. I held performance rituals in the makerspace where I would meticulously embed pieces from the Elsewhere collection—dust, paint chips, doll parts, words from books etc.—into the 3D prints, while printing. I learned that you don’t bring glitter in the makerspace….
This technique of embedding is a pas de deux between human and machine. A quick, but deliberate, placement of objects inside the print before the arm of the robot-printer comes back around. If something isn’t placed properly, the printer and the print could be sent into havoc. I got to know the printer mutually, when to put my fingers in, when to quickly pull them out. This was a careful operation of focused energy. I turned off the lights, meditated, sang, and danced. These 3D prints are not simply speculative art objects, but sigils embedded with intentions; they are tools. In the right hands, the dowsing rod might be able to find GenX-less water—a stretch perhaps—but one quick search online reveals people are already doing similar things.
Instructions for Dowsing Rod use inside Elsewhere:
Situation - You can’t find those favorite pair of scissors, wifi or _____ ?
Pick up the dowsing rod.
Set an intention and be led to what you are searching for.
Return it for the next person to use.