Digital Stone as a concept is based on the fusion of CAD technologies with traditional stone carving.
All sculptures in this exhibition were designed and developed first in the virtual space of software programs. Physical models were then printed by rapid prototype machines which function as a metaphorical “hand” of the computer to produce an actual sculpture from the virtual sculpture.
Although it is possible to carve stone directly via CNC milling machines these machines are still unable to carve sculptures that have overly complex shapes and/or interior forms. In the current age of expanding digital technologies, when the machine often excels over many factors of human endeavor, carving stone sculpture is one of the few examples when the hand of man is still superior to the machine. For thousands of years Chinese stone carvers have created some of the world’s finest stone carving and this continues today.
To quote art critic, Robert Morgan: “…in reflecting on the concept of (Digital Stone Exhibition), I think it is original and the idea attractive. It reverses the predictable paradigm of taking a drawing, idea, or model that is hand-wrought and transforming it by way of digital programs into a monument. (Digital Stone) goes from the digital inception to the hand-wrought Monument (so to speak) by way of traditional artisans who carve Bodhisattvas”.
Only recently have some contemporary Western artists become aware of the new possibilities of having sculptures carved in China. This process also highlights the optimization of global communications engendered by digital technologies that have been pertinent to the expansion of Digital Sculpture for the past decade.
This is significant to understand the concept of Digital Stone as an extension of the globalization of the Digital Age. This also explains the rationale not only to produce the Digital Stone sculptures in China but also to initiate the exhibition throughout China.
Digital Stone Exhibition features four digital sculptors: Bruce Beasley, Jon Isherwood, Robert Michael Smith and Kenneth Snelson, who have designed five sculptures each utilizing CAD technologies. These virtual designs were then physically printed via rapid prototype 3D technology. The RP models were sent to China to be enlarged in granite at Dingli Stone Carving Company in Fujian Province.
The accompanying indoor exhibition of smaller artworks, “e-Form”, educates viewers to the various steps of computer design, rapid prototype manufacture, and the relationship of 3D visualization/animation to the development of Digital Stone. This exhibition includes a documentary film, digital prints, rapid prototype models and animation clips produced by more than thirty international artists.
Autodesk is the sponsor for Digital Stone Exhibition. Autodesk is a CAD software company established in 1982 and based in California with over 5,000 employees and offices in 106 countries. Autodesk develops software that enables architects, designers, artists and engineers with the software tools of digital design for much of the world that we live in – from roads and bridges, cars and skyscrapers, to video games and film. Because of this factor there is an innate appreciation of design and innovation at Autodesk that extends to the top.
Autodesk’s CEO, Carl Bass, who also happens to be an accomplished furniture designer, has a strong relationship with the Digital Stone artists and has become personally involved in the Digital Stone Exhibition project. With a commitment to the China market (Autodesk has significant offices in both Beijing and Shanghai) and a desire to enable more people to push the bounds of their designs, Autodesk is a unique partner to these artists to present this important and compelling exhibition first to China.