Computer numerical control (CNC) technologies, including 3D printers, laser cutters, and milling machines, are becoming increasingly accessible to many consumers in Canada, the United States, and beyond. Typical representations of these technologies frame them as clip art machines for the 21st century or devices intended largely for hobbyists. However, in the MLab, we are mobilizing desktop fabrication for cultural research to remake objects that are no longer accessible, no longer function, or exist only as fictions. Inspired by the work of researchers such as Tara McPherson, Anne Balsamo, and Sharon Daniel, we are also invested in making arguments through tacit knowledge and mixed media to expand scholarly communication. To be sure, fabrication technologies not only underscore how (to borrow from Neil Gershenfeld) digital programmability shapes analog dynamics and tactile objects. They also put pressure on humanities practitioners to unpack the social and cultural implications of digital/material convergence. For instance, how can digital fabrication help us reduce e-waste and resist planned obsolescence? How can making objects in 3D inform existing practices in data visualization and screen-oriented design? What editorial and copyright decisions are involved in replication? How does fabrication shape our engagements with historical artefacts and material culture? How can, or should, we use digital fabrication to reassert the value of conjecture and speculation in the humanities? Of embodied learning and praxis in fields such as history, literature, critical theory, and media studies?
This research (scheduled for 2013-17) is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with the Humanistic Fab Lab at Western.
Our Desktop Fabrication Projects
The following MLab projects currently involve desktop fabrication: The Humanities Lab as Makerspace, the “Hello World” Workshop Series, and the Kits for Cultural History. Additionally, some HASTAC Scholars at UVic practice desktop fabrication.
Follow Our Research
To stay in the loop with our desktop fabrication research, follow the stream of posts below. We do our best to regularly publish logs of our work.
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Image above care of Danielle Morgan. Image left care of Jentery Sayers.