Janos Stone, Design Researcher in Residence at Northeastern University, a practicing sculptor artist for twenty years and the instructor of T+IP:Things and Intellectual Property course, is determined to investigate the effects of emerging user-friendly 3-D laser scanning on art, design, culture, and intellectual properties. Stone was invited to Northeastern University by Professor Nathan Felde, Chair of Department of Art + Design, as part of the University’s effort to be at the forefront of 3-D scanning and printing technology. Bringing together a group of five students coming from a diverse range of disciplines, such as Art + Design, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA) and the Northeastern School of Law. Stone and his colleagues are working to see how the increasing accessibility of this technology plays a role in intellectual culture, intellectual property, security, and the future of business.
Five years ago 3-D scanning was expensive and difficult to access, but now free smartphone applications make the technology available for anyone with an interest in the new technology. 3-D scanning and printing has the ability to influence and change our society for better, or worse, depending on its usage. With emerging technologies people could potentially make a 3-D scan of someone’s fingerprints without the person knowing or reproduce the work of others, but also create a variety of objects from one simple scan. As part of their research, the law students in the course are working on some of the first legal papers on the subject with the goal of beginning a conversation within the legal community. The student from the SMFA has been scanning art works in museums around Boston as a way of experimenting with the technology as a new tool for art making. Because of his work, some of the museums, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and the deCordova, have been in conversations with him about his experience and are now considering updating their lending policies to include restrictions on scanning. The A + D students are building a website to house the work done for the directed study participants and incorporates the technology as a way of being self-referential.
When asked why Northeastern has been at the forefront of 3-D scanning and printing technology Stone said, “Northeastern prides itself on interdisciplinary research and these tools really lend themselves to that. So when I proposed the idea of bringing art and law school students together people said ‘Yeah that makes a lot of sense.’” While the technology may be becoming increasingly accessible, a surprising number of people are still unaware or unknowledgeable about 3-D scanning, printing and how it can be used in an interdisciplinary way. Art + Design, engineering, business, and law students can all benefit from this technology and while they may not all create 3-D objects, they can certainly take advantage of the ability to create virtual objects for projects and research purposes. Stone has even invented a 3-D printing mobile application, Mecube.com, which provides an entry point into the world of 3-D technology by letting users design and print simple shapes directly from their phone. As an interdisicplanry faculty, Stone collaborated in opening of Northeastern’s 3-D printing lab is for all to use, featured by Boston Globe.
With the rapid development of 3-D technology, people’s views of the physical world are quickly changing. 3-D technology allows users to bring objects from the virtual world to the physical world and vice versa. Users can potentially take one scan and create a multitude of objects simply by changing the scale and the material being used. For example, a user could take one scan, scale it larger, and print it out in plastic as an umbrella stand or scale it down, print it on in silver and have a bead for a necklace. When it comes to this exciting, unknown technology Stone has the following advice: “Be patient with it, but do use it. This is a new technology that very few people have explored but if you find a way to incorporate into whatever field or study you’re in it can be hugely valuable.”
On March 19, 4:40-6:30 pm, Gallery 360 will present the physical sculptures and legal theses of the Things and Intellectual Property course, as a reminder of Northeastern’s commitment to being at the forefront of new technology and exploring the unknown so students can benefit from its findings. The T+IP: Things + Intellectual Property Exhibit will be on display March 12 through May 17.
By Connor Doherty