Kristina Camilleri-Grygolec May 5, 2015

The "MAKING A DIFFERENCE / A DIFFERENCE IN MAKING" exhibition opened to the public on Friday, April 24th at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. We caught up with some of the minds behind the show, Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen and exhibition curator Marta Malé-Alemany to get their insight on what the exhibition is all about.

 What was your motivation for exhibiting 3D-printed objects at BOZAR, a center for fine arts?

Fried Vancraen: “3D Printing is influencing our life and culture, as many artists and designers participating in the exhibition demonstrate. This influence has already made more of an impact than most people realize, although it will become even more pronounced in the future. Through the exhibition "MAKING A DIFFERENCE / A DIFFERENCE IN MAKING", we want to show a realistic image of this future, along with its threats and opportunities.”

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 What inspired you to curate an exhibition about 3D Printing?

Marta Malé-Alemany: “Well, this is not the first exhibition I’ve actually curated on 3D Printing. I curated one of the very first exhibitions on 3D Printing about five years ago at the Design Museum of Barcelona. The designers exhibiting back then were some of the very few who were already using 3D Printing. We have come a long way in five years!

That’s where my relationship with Materialise started; the company lent some pieces from the .MGX collection to the exhibition in Barcelona. These pieces were really exceptional. A few of them will be exhibited again at BOZAR such as the One_Shot.MGX by Patrick Jouin, and works from designers like Nervous System, Amit Zoran and others who had also been invited to exhibit pieces at the exhibition in Barcelona. Having them again, this time at BOZAR, shows how much their practices have developed in five years’ time.

Looking at James Novak's FIX3D bike.
Looking at James Novak's FIX3D bike. ©Wim Gombeer

 What does the title of the exhibition "MAKING A DIFFERENCE / A DIFFERENCE IN MAKING" mean to you?

Fried Vancraen: “Throughout the years, 3D Printing has created many useful applications for people. You can already see the wide penetration of the technology in the hearing aid industry for instance, or the many applications in the dental industry, and the growing attention in the orthopedic industry. In these sectors, 3D Printing is not just making a difference for the people using these products but we also see that it is making another fundamental difference: a difference in making through the way the production process in those industries is organized.”

One room explores the difference that 3D Printing makes for the lives of individuals. Here you can see the Hibbot and WREX exoskeleton
One room explores the difference that 3D Printing makes for the lives of individuals. Here you can see the Hibbot and WREX exoskeleton. ©Wim Gombeer

 Do you see a connection between technology and the arts?

 Marta Malé-Alemany: “Yes! Actually a whole section of the exhibition is almost entirely dedicated to that. The exhibition’s title has two sides: 'Making a Difference' and 'A Difference in Making'. And in the section 'A Difference in Making', we present how 3D Printing is a manufacturing technology that allows us to make things differently, and how artists and designers have greatly contributed to the development of the technology. They do this by embracing it and proposing creative challenges that are, in many cases, pushing the boundaries of what is hypothetically possible. This section also shows how 3D printing companies like Materialise, and others have welcomed those challenges, supported them, and resolved them in many cases, and how it has been a way for these companies to push their own research and development. So, I think there is a symbiotic relationship between artists and 3D printing companies, creating a very interesting synergy. In the exhibition it’s very clear that they work hand in hand."

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©Wim Gombeer

 How do the pieces in the exhibition tell a story about 3D Printing?

 Marta Malé-Alemany: “In many ways. First, there are over 80 projects in the exhibition, some of them dating back to the early 2000's and some have been especially produced for this exhibition. So already in this collection of objects, there is over ten years of history in terms of the applications of 3D Printing in science, the arts and other fields. In the exhibition itself, you can see a certain history of the technology.

"Besides this, the section 'Making a Difference' shows projects that are using 3D Printing to solve concrete problems, showing how the technology can bring added value. That, to me, is a mature and advanced use of the technology, which represents a leap forward. In this section there are three domains showing how 3D Printing makes a difference for the environment, the lives of individuals, and society. In each one of these domains there are many examples of really advanced and innovative developments in medicine, aerospace, architecture, education and more, which you could not find five years ago. So in that section you will see things that are totally contemporary.

"It is important to understand that the exhibition does not try to show a chronological development. What the exhibition is saying is: here is a technology that is relevant because it can bring added value. And we present ways in which the technology does precisely that.”

Looking at the CaCO3 Stoneware pieces by Laura Lynn Jansen and Thomas Vailly.
Looking at the CaCO3 Stoneware pieces by Laura Lynn Jansen and Thomas Vailly. ©Wim Gombeer

So there you have it: a look into the concept of "MAKING A DIFFERENCE / A DIFFERENCE IN MAKING" exhibition with our very own Fried Vancraen and Marta Malé-Alemany, architect and recognized researcher in the field of digital fabrication technologies.

If you plan to visit Brussels between April 24th and June 7th, you should definitely put this on your “to see” list. And if you don’t only want to see the marvels of 3D Printing, but also want to take part somehow, a public workshop on repurposing everyday objects with 3D printing will be held on May 9th and 10th at the BOZAR where you can get your hands dirty with some live 3D printers.

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