Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital, The Exhibition

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Out of Hand: Materialising the Digital examines the place and impact of new digital manufacturing technologies – 3D printing in its various forms, CNC machining, laser cutting, and digital knitting and weaving.

The works of nearly 60 Australian and international artists, designers and scientists are presented in Out of Hand, with the exhibition framed by seven themes:

Barry X Ball, Envy, 2008–10. Courtesy of Barry X Ball Studio.
Barry X Ball, Envy, 2008–16. Photo: Jayne Ion.

Analog to Postdigital

As with most innovations, the many ideas inherent in new digital manufacturing technologies have precedents; certain forms of additive manufacturing, precision machining, digital computation and algorithmic weaving all have their origins in previous centuries. New digital manufacturing technologies are blurring the boundaries between the virtual and material worlds, making the distinction less meaningful.

Modelling Nature

In today’s computational world, biological and ecological phenomena often serve as models for creative expression in art, design and science. Millennia of evolution have produced some extraordinary ‘designs’. New digital technologies give us new capacity to mimic and model natural forms, from microscopic unicellular organisms to the macroscopic environment, to better understand the natural world and discover solutions to problems we have constructed within it.

New Geometries

Computers have advanced our capacity to understand and visualise mathematical forms. Digital manufacturing technologies allow those forms to be built.

Rebooting Revivals

In the past decade various artists and designers have taken a postmodern approach, using the tools of digital design and manufacture to create works that reference or reproduce historical artworks and past decorative styles. Innovations in science, design and other fields are very often adaptations and combinations of older ideas highlighting the importance of understanding and remembering the past. 

Pattern as Structure

The search for patterns is a particularly human urge that allows us to understand our world and anticipate what might happen next. It is an essential part of scientific investigation and a mainstay of design, craft and art. We find it very satisfying when we finally recognise a pattern where there appears to be none. Computers are particularly adept at dealing with patterns, expressing even the most complex of them.

Remixing the Figure

Digital advancements have inspired a re-examination of the body and the representation of the human form in art and design. 3D scanning provides the ability to capture the true likeness of an older sculptural work or a live person. The data captured can then be manipulated, combined or animated.


For some artists and designers the process of making plays a crucial role in the presentation of the final work. The systems they create range from being fully autonomous – in which the formal qualities of the artwork are determined by the computer program – to those that require audience participation or interaction to complete the activity.

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