Introduction: How to Host an #Additivist Workshop?

This Instructable is a step by step guide for hosting a #Additivist workshop written by Daniel Rourke and Morehshin Allahyari.

The photos in this Instructable were taken during ARTEKLAB's Additivist Workshop, at Espacio Reflex, Spain, May 2015.

Step 1: What Is #Additivism?

The 3D printer is a profound metaphor for our times. A technology for channelling creative endeavour, through digital processes, into the layering of raw matter excavated from ancient geological eras. Considered as a tool for art, design and engineering, and gesturing towards a forthcoming era of synthetic chemistry and biological augmentation, 3D fabrication technologies are already a site of common exchange between disciplines and forms of materiality.

3D fabrication can be thought of as the critical framework of #Additivism: a movement started with The 3D Additivist Manifesto that aims to disrupt material, social, computational, and metaphysical realities through provocation, collaboration, and ‘weird’ / science fictional thinking and making. Additivism embraces the 3D Printer in the same way that Donna Haraway embraced the figure of the Cyborg in her influential text A Manifesto for Cyborgs. By considering the 3D printer as a technology for remodelling thought into profound, and often nightmarish, new shapes - Additivism aims to expose inbetweens, empower the powerless, and question the presupposed.

Step 2: Why Host an #Additivist Workshop?

Workshops are one of the best ways to exchange practical and creative knowledge. We created The 3D Additivist Manifesto and forthcoming Cookbook call to get people talking, thinking and creating. Bringing a group of like-minded creators together is a great way to promote critical collaboration and knowledge exchange.

The Manifesto was designed with everyone in mind from inquiring young minds, to frustrated artists looking for something new, through to engineers, scientists, and political theorists interested in asking difficult questions. Hey, why not bring ALL these people together in one place! That’s what #Additivism is really about.

Would you like to workshop submissions for The 3D Additivist Cookbook? We’d LOVE to have them. So:

  • Make a date.
  • Agree on a place.
  • Send out invitations, and pin up flyers.
  • Stock up on coffee.
  • And let’s get started.

Step 3: What Will I Need to Host an #Additivist Workshop?

At the bare minimum:

  • Imagination
  • Pencils, paper, glue, scissors
  • Somewhere to work (a basement/classroom/warehouse/abandoned military complex)

A little more adventurous:

If you are lucky or can find a friendly institution willing to share:

  • Badass computers running software like Maya, Zbrush, Inventor, Rhino or open source software like Google Sketchup, Blender, Meshmixer, Meshlab, 123D Catch.
  • 3D printers!
  • Plastic filament or Resin
  • Your expertise

Step 4: Beginning Your Workshop: Questions Questions Questions

Start your workshop by asking your participants what they know about 3D printing and the 3D printer. Brainstorm, gather everything that people know together and write it all up on a whiteboard or shared Google Doc:

  • Why are people at the workshop?
  • What does or doesn’t interest them about 3D Printing and additive fabrication methods?
  • What experience do participants have with these technologies?
  • What do they think is currently missing from critical approaches to 3D printing technology and the dialogue around it?
  • What have they heard about the ‘maker’ movement?

Next, load up the Tumblr, and start browsing through some of the links with your participants:

  • Which kind of uses of 3D printing stand out for you and why?
  • Can you separate the uses of the technology into some specific categories?
  • Encourage your participants to create a list of examples they remember from the news media, or perhaps from science fiction and fantasy films that remind them of Additive technologies. Gather these things together and share.
  • Time to get technical and/or science fictional! You might prompt with questions:
  1. What materials do/can 3D Printers use?
  2. How much do they cost?
  3. What are they capable of?
  4. If every person in your country had a 3D printer in their home, what could this mean for industry? infrastructure? the free-market? copyright and ownership?
  5. How can they practically influence the political, cultural, and social present and future of 3D printing?
  6. How do they imagine our lives 25, 50, 100, 200 years from now based on the impact of 3D printers? (this is where you can encourage the participants to think about the futuristic, post-human, and the weird possibilities of 3D printers).
  7. What are their limitations? How do they work?

Step 5: Watch/read the Manifesto

Now it’s probably time to sit back and watch/read The 3D Additivist Manifesto. Encourage your workshop to follow along on print outs of the Manifesto. Pass around translations of the Manifesto to anyone who might need it. Encourage note-taking, scribbling, and wild gesticulation throughout the video.

The Manifesto text on the Additivist website (and PDF) contains a detailed bibliography of many of the references we used to write The Manifesto. These texts are all wonderful (we believe) and worth looking at to get a sense of the ideas we channelled into The 3D Additivist Manifesto.

The Manifesto is dense, poetic, and weird - yes WEIRD. We like it that way, but criticism and debate from your participants is a great way to start minds churning and ideas racing. Before the workshop brainstorming really begins spend some time teasing out The Manifesto text and the political, metaphysical, and confusing issues it raises in your group. Read this interview we did with The Creator’s Project, or browse the Press/Interviews section of our website for more insights. If you need any tips on what specific parts of The Manifesto mean then please, please don’t hesitate to contact us before, or even during, your workshop. We will be really excited to hear from you via email or twitter. Lastly, we now also have an #Additivism Forum! Please sign up and start debating, speculating, and deconstructing.

Step 6: Browse Through This List of Potential Topics

The following list can serve as a guideline for brainstorming potential topics and concepts. You can print out or collectively read through this list to help your workshop participants come up with thought provoking ideas.

Your design, texts, blueprints, or objects might probe...

  • The separation between digital forms and physical representations
  • The blending of engineering, the sciences, and the arts
  • The environmental impact of 3D fabrication
  • 3D printers, prints, and materials as a metaphor
  • Future archaeologies and speculative designs
  • The aesthetics of destruction, decay, waste, recycling, extinction, or deviation
  • The intimate relationship between crude oil, plastic, war, and globalisation
  • The contradiction behind accelerating techno-capitalism towards something ‘more sustainable’
  • Gender, race, and body biases inherent in ideas of innovation and progress
  • The possibility of grassroots activism with a global reach
  • A philosophy of meshes, layers and ‘deep-time’
  • The aesthetics of 3D scanning, rendering, and fabrication
  • The glitch/hack/virus/kluge as political methodology
  • The potential of ‘open source’ to disrupt hierarchies and infrastructures of power
  • The Anthropocene, The Speculative, The Posthuman, The Weird

Now: Brainstorm! Brainstorm! Brainstorm!

Step 7: Practical Ways to Promote Additivist Ideas

Appropriation and Reiteration : There are tonnes of amazing online repositories of OBJ and STL files. Why not use them? If you are hosting a workshop for people with very little 3D design experience then opening up a copy of MeshMixer and letting people blend weird OBJ files together is a great way to build confidence and get ideas flowing.
If your workshop is a little more advanced, then OBJ and STL files are still a fantastic place to start messing around. How can we disrupt the intended use of these objects? How can we break them productively? What weird forms can we make that speak to the concepts raised by The 3D Additivist Manifesto?

3D Printer Deconstruction : How is a 3D printer built? How does it function? Messing around with one directly is a great way to figure out its limitations. Breaking stuff on purpose is a great way to learn. Just make sure you can replace whatever you do break :-)

The practices and methods of glitch art and hacktivism come into play here. Time to start Googling the glitch art community and see what weird and amazing works are out there and what inspired them.

What is a ‘discipline’ anyway? : The 3D printer is a technology that sits between disciplines like the arts, science, engineering, and design. Your workshop should too. If you have a group of engineering students in front of you, then now is the time to talk about exciting works from the visual arts that approach objects and politics in unique ways. Likewise, if you have a group made up of hackers, artists, scientists, and 3D print enthusiasts their knowledge will be very different, and their motivations will be distinct. Now is the time to share ideas and ways of thinking and take the knowledge from one person and project it into the room for everyone to take advantage of.

The Anarchist’s Cookbook : William Powell’s classic text has been sparking controversy for 40 years, and for good reason. It is still filled with objects that have the potential to shock, disrupt, and - to be quite honest - cause a great deal of harm. Tracing some of these objects, whether in the book itself, or via clever Google searching, is a great way to get minds buzzing with provocative ideas. What is provocative and radical about Powell's Cookbook? Is it worth aligning your ideas with something so controversial?

Step 8: Possible Formats to Work With

In this section, you can present some of the possible formats which your participants can create and practically take part in the Additivist movement. The Anarchist’s Cookbook is a great resource for this in terms of methods and formats. But there are always new ways and possibilities to mix formats.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Extensions or translations of The 3D Additivist Manifesto!
  • Technical blueprints Critical texts and essays
  • Speculative / science fiction
  • Algorithms, code, bots, viruses
  • .STL or .OBJ files
  • Tweaks and hacks for (open source) software
  • Circuit bending
  • Adaptations/hacks of proprietary objects (such as IKEA furniture)
  • Biological and chemical engineering
  • Culinary hacking
  • A combination of several formats!!

Step 9: Break Into Small Groups

At this point, the participants in your workshop should have an idea of a topic and also certain formats that they want to work in. This is an opportunity to invite everyone (especially those from different disciplines) to collaborate with each other. This of course is not a required method for creating content but one that we highly encourage.

For example:

  • Imagine a scientist and an artist sitting together during the workshop and writing a text and series of instructions on 3D printing and assembling DNA.
  • A programmer and writer working together to produce a Twitter bot that pumps out weird, additivist projects.
  • An engineer and chef working together to hack 3D printers to extrude phosphorescent spaghetti.
  • A fashion designer and chemist devising clothes that melt on impact with water.
  • ETC ETC ETC.........

Step 10: Mesh, Test, Reiterate, Repeat

Ideas needs to be tested out, pushed to their limits, and rebuilt from scratch before they come out perfect. This is one of the benefits of the 3D printer, and as long as you recycle your material failure should be encouraged! You might be able to do a full workshop in a single day, but it is likely that your participants will need a few days, or will need to go home and finish their project in their own time. We are happy to help out in any practical way we can, so once again, please do get in touch.

Step 11: Share Online and Submit to the 3D Additivist Cookbook

  • Share images, videos, and other documentation from your workshop.
  • Join the #Additivism Forum and pitch your ideas; look for collaborators; start an argument or two ;)
  • Tweet during or after you workshop using the #additivism hashtag, or mention us directly at @additivism
  • Translate The Manifesto text! We are building a repository of Additivist Manifesto translations, and we’d LOVE to add more.
  • Upload the produced material from your workshop onto your website, Tumblr, Github, Instructable, Dropbox, or PirateBay.
  • Host an exhibition of your finished Additivist objects!
  • Email us the link to your photos, blueprints, notes etc. so we can share it: (if you need help hosting this material online we are more than happy to provide assistance.)
  • Write-up and package your #Additivist material and submit it to The 3D Additivist Cookbook!