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ART H 309 B: Topics in Art History

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Remaking the World from the Ground Up: 3D Printing in Art, Architecture, and Design

Meeting Time: 
MWF 10:00am - 11:20am
ART 003
Marek Wieczorek
Marek Wieczorek

Syllabus Description:

Remaking the World from the Ground Up:
3D Printing in Art, Architecture, and Design

0032_3_1241153_201404639.jpg 0004_3_1241148_201404612.jpg
0016_3_1241092_201404670.jpg Adam Lowe's Replica of King Tut's Tomb .jpg
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Lorna Bradshaw's Joshua Harker's Sculptural Self-Portrait .jpg 0012_3_1241226_201404697.jpg 0001_3_1241236_201404707.jpg


Remaking the World from the Ground Up: 3D Printing in Art, Architecture, and Design

MWF 10:00-11:20am Art 003
Instructor: Marek Wieczorek, 355 Art Building
Office hours: W 2:30-3:30pm and by appointment

     This lecture course brings together the fields of art, science and history by reflecting on the broader implications of the innovative process of 3-D printing and digital fabrication in Art, Architecture, and Design. "Remaking the World from the Ground Up: 3D Printing in Art, Architecture, and Design" will examine a process which by many is seen as a new revolution in fabrication in the technological and economic spheres, but which has not yet received much scholarly attention when it comes to the question of the current and potential future roles of art and creativity in this process.

     Whereas traditional printers only make marks on paper, 3D printers build up solid objects in a great many very thin layers and in a wide range of materials and intricate shapes on both very small and larger scales: from soft and harder plastics to titanium, from fully functional small components and complex mechanisms, batteries, transistors, and the like, to entire buildings, from making LEDs to using slurries and gels to print living tissue and human cartilage.

     3D printing reshapes not only how, but also where things are made. Objects we use in our daily lives are usually made and assembled elsewhere, in large, polluting factories that use subtractive methods (and casting, forging, milling, turning, welding and molding techniques). Digital fabrication and the additive process of 3D printing allow for objects to be made locally, quickly, inexpensively, relatively cleanly and to individual specifications, through the use of computers and 3D printers that are expected to be available increasingly for personal use. Invention and prototyping and the quick learning of practical skills and their creative application through a new generation of computer-literate producer-consumers ("prosumers") has led to a "Maker Culture," a technology-based extension of DIY culture that is often bent on sharing designs across web platforms and through open sources. It is this creative and imaginative potential of the new process, and the increasing connectedness of people and things in our digital world (the so-called "internet of things"), that is also the subject of the course, but mainly through the examination of what artists, architects and designers have already produced, as well as through what they imagine is still possible.

     The course will begin by providing students with the theoretical foundations for understanding the numerous implications of these new processes, from 19th-century theories of industrial production to myriad consequences within the current forms of post-Fordist, globalized economies. What to think of, and do with, Marx's definitions, for example, of commodity fetishism or reification in social relations, of the alienation caused by the rift between production and consumption, when now, with personalized digital fabrication, that rift need no longer be? By improving the productivity of materials, the new procedure also eliminates the waste of subtractive manufacturing and allows printed objects in plastics or metals to be recycled, thus creating a beneficial circular economy that also stimulates new creative and aesthetic solutions. These aspects —imaginative new forms of creativity in art, architecture and design— form the backbone of the course. Rather than start with the recreation of existing forms and functions (the least imaginative and dire example that got a lot of publicity was a functioning printed gun), people are now given the opportunity to rethink and remake the world from the ground up and from the inside out, to imagine and design new types of objects, reexamined on the level of functionality, form, scale and, significantly, affective relations through new aesthetic modalities.

     Class sessions will mainly involve slide lectures and discussions of the week’s readings. There will be an open discussion as to the form testing will take in this course, in which we will discuss the possibilities of group presentations, different forms of participation and the creation of a compendium of images (see percentage breakdown below). In a past iteration students came up with other creative ways in which they wanted to be tested that were compatible with the collaborative, creative side of the course (and were a lot of fun!). We will early on discuss this option. Many new postings on this website will generate an email on your UW email account, so you know when to look. However, if for some reason the notification fails, you are still responsible for checking regularly, so you can keep up.

Compendium:                                       30 %
Group Collaboration/Presentation:    30 %
Participation:                                         40 %

A minimum of a 60 % score is required to pass the course.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: No late or early papers/presentations will be accepted, except in cases of documented emergencies.

Readings for the course are assigned via the weekly listing found in the Course Content section of the course website, which accumulates and changes on an almost weekly basis (so stay tuned!). The actual readings are mainly Pdfs posted in the Files section, some web links, some eBooks accessible through the UW Library, and two books:

  • Chris Anderson, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2012)
  • Printing Things: Visions and Essentials for 3D Printing, by eds. C. Warnier, D. Verbruggen/Unfold, S. Ehmann, and R. Klanten (Gestalten 2014)

Both are available at the University Bookstore. On a semi-regular basis, slides will be put on electronic- or E-reserve so you can study the works you are expected to know (I will send email notifications). It is essential that you do the readings before class; only then your participation through informed questions and in-class discussions will be able to count toward your grade. Please make sure to note and keep up with the weekly additions to the syllabus with assignments for readings and lists of names and terms.

HISTORICALLY, STUDENTS WHO HAVE COME TO ALL CLASS SESSIONS HAVE DONE WELL IN THE COURSE (those who missed three or more sessions were significantly affected in terms of their grades)



Equal Opportunity

The School of Art reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran in accordance with UW policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.

Disability Accommodation

• If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY) or

• If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating you have a disability that requires academic accommodation, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need for the class. 


Catalog Description: 
Topics vary.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:11pm