Being the machine

While I was reading the chapter the first thing that came to mind  was the work of Laura Devendorf, “being the machine”. This work is about an alternative way of 3D printing, in which a person plays the role of the 3D machine. By doing so, not only the intimate relationship human-material is preserved, but also the pleasure that goes along with the process of creating a handcrafted object (McCullough, pp. 10) In Laura’s own words :

“Being the Machine is an alternative 3D printer that operates in terms of negotiation rather than delegation. It takes the instructions typically provided to 3D printers and presents them to human makers to follow – essentially creating a system for 3D printing by hand with whatever tools and materials one deems necessary. It works like 3D version of a game of connect the dots: a 3D model is uploaded and sent to the printer, the printer draws a single laser point where the user should lay down their material, and as the laser point moves, the user follows, manually drawing the paths and layers until their model is complete. The system makes no attempt to guide the make or tell them how to be more precise or accurate, it simply presents the moves the machine would preform and asks the maker to take it from there.” (

I think this one of many other examples that shows that advancement of abstraction and the improvement of human (hand) skill are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as McCullough might have feared.

Leave a Reply