3D printing creates film without film

Artist Julien Maire has combined an age-old film technique with modern technology to create something beautiful and new.

iMAL/Julien Maire

As our technologies increasingly move towards digitisation, perhaps the old techniques are becoming lost to younger generations. Take film. Although we still refer to motion pictures as "films", it is not often that we see film any more: we shoot moving images on our smartphones, watch films on Blu-Ray discs and CDs rather than VHS cassettes, and cinemas use digital projectors rather than film reels.

iMAL/Julien Maire

However, we know how it works: a series of still images shot in succession are fed rapidly through a fixed point, with a backlight behind. Like a flip book or a zoetrope, this produces the illusion of motion.

It is this principle that Berlin-based French artist Julien Maire has used for his latest work, Relief, created during a residency program at iMAL in Brussels.

"Media Archaeology is a new science. It's not studying the history of cinematograph and gramophone, but how our perception of the world is transformed through the camera lens and the speaker," the project's description reads.

"In French, '3D cinema' was also called 'relief cinema' (relief as in 'relief map' or 'bas-relief'). The term went out of style when we were forced to admit that 'relief cinema' didn't exist. 'Relief' evokes materiality, while '3D' is commonly understood as a mathematical and computational concept. Through expanding and contracting pieces, and stereolithographic projections, Julien Maire's installations indirectly address new technologies, media archaeology and manipulate fiction.

In short, instead of film, Maire decided to make a series of stereolithographic 3D printed figures constructed out of a clear material. He printed 85 figures using a FormLabs Form 1 3D printer, each a different pose in the motion progression that describes a man digging.

These were then fixed to a moving belt with a light behind it in a fixed position. As the belt moves the figures past that position, each figure becomes a still frame in the "film".

There is no video of the resultant film available online, but if you're in Brussels, you can visit the exhibition at iMAL.

Via 3DPrint.