Digital venus

Prehistoric art, reinterpreted

Digital venus is a reinterpretation of Paleolithic figurative art using the contemporary tools of digital manufacturing.

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Project overview

Digital venus was presented as part of the autobiographical exhibition “Human Code” that the artist - Roberto Sironi - held during the Fuorisalone 2019 in Milan. Through a series of conceptual artworks, the exhibition explored the relationship between figurative language and the evolution of human ingenuity, from prehistory to the present day. Digital Venus, developed in collaboration with Indexlab, is a reinterpretation of a paleolithic venus, a fertility goddess, manufactured using the cutting-edge technology of robotic 3D printing.

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Concept

Sironi’s artistic exploration aims to prove how the desire for representation endures over the centuries, regardless of the continuous evolution of manufacturing technologies. In the past manual techniques – generally subtractive – were used to carve matter, while nowadays computerized processes and technologies are adopted. Such technologies are increasingly oriented towards additive manufacturing solutions that favor the addition of material to shape objects. The same human creativity that once skillfully guided the artist’s arm to sculpt matter, is today used to design algorithms that guide robotic manipulators through every step of the manufacturing process. Therefore, the ingenuity of the contemporary man is solely applied to the design of the "code within the form", assigning the entire physical manufacturing process to the robotic manipulator.

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The artwork weighs 1462 grams, measures 188mm in height, and is printed continuously following a path 45.95 meters long.

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Original contribution

Indexlab assisted the artist in the design and production of the artwork, developing an end-to-end algorithm to mange the geometric information, transform it into a sequence of layers, and generate the machine code for manufacturing. Paleolithic Venuses, also called “Callipygian” and “Steatopygia” due to their particular shape, are small prehistoric statues depicting women with very pronounced sexual attributes. The use of a continuous layer by layer deposition method combined with the specific geometry posed a considerable technical challenge. To manufacture the artwork, Indexlab designed the digital code replicating the contours of the venus and developed a new deposition process, which supports the outer layers thanks to a perfect balance of material properties, printing speed and toolpath geometry.

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The venus of Willendorf (left) is a prehistoric venus figurine 11.1 cm tall dating back to about 30000 BC.
The venus of Lespugne (right) is a statuette of nude female dating back between 26000 and 24000 years ago.

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The diagrams represent the ratio between the quantity of material in percentage and the relative height of the 3D printed part.

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The diagram represents the contours of the shape, subdivided in: outer shell, internal reinforcement interface and structural backbone

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The making of the Digital venus
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Client: Roberto Sironi
Year: 2019
Location: Milan
Engineering and manufacturing: INDEXLAB
Team: Pierpaolo Ruttico (Project coordinator/design principal), Carlo Beltracchi (Project leader), Claudia Brisolin, Salvatore Urso, Francesco Perego.

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