breaking the mould 1a

Break the Mould

Break the Mould is an interactive 3D printing installation created by digital agency Developing Dreams working with Brighton based Italian artist Emilia Telese.

PLEASE NOTE: We are now fully booked for the Brighton Digital Festival! You can still visit the installation and see a 3D body scanner and 3D printers in action, but unfortunately, we don’t have any spaces left to get people scanned and print little figures of them.

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Visitors are invited to walk into a 3D body scanner, a giant woman’s body, to get scanned and ‘give birth’ to a 3D printed small sculpture of themselves. Break the Mould will make its debut at the Brighton Maker Faire on 7 September and will be on tour during the Brighton Digital Festival:

  • Corn Exchange (7 September main exhibition)
  • Jubilee Library (9 – 22 September)
  • Clearleft at 68 Middle Street (24 – 29 September)
  • Mad Hatter Cafe (30 September – 4 October)

The installation will give people the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in this exciting, disruptive and empowering new technology.

Break the Mould is free to see, however, 3D scans and 3D prints are priced as follows to cover part of the costs of the installation: £20 per person, £35 per couple, and £45 per family (2 adults and 2 children).

Developing Dreams is working in partnership with technology wizards 3Dify; leading manufacturer of desktop 3D printers UltimakerFaberdashery, a supplier of high quality source materials and consultancy for 3D printing;  iMakr, the world’s largest 3D printing store in London; MCR print providing information panels and promotional materials for the installation, Nikki Gunson who created the giant willow sculpture, film maker Sarita Frit, and Sussex Fibreglass and Plastics.

The nice people at the FuseBox, run by WiredSussex, have agreed to help us out with sharing some of their great space temporarily, because that’s the one thing we are lacking in our office.

Break the Mould is also supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.



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  1. Julian Brooks

    How this is classed as a ‘free-event’ I have no idea unless it’s in a quietly Orwellian fashion.

    After dragging (well actually, more gently cajoling) my fairly pregnant wife and 2 yr old daughter to the Jubilee Library for this ‘free-event’ where we would be able to be full-bodily scanned and then presented with micro likenesses of ourselves, we thought that that sounded like a lot of fun. We also felt it would be lovely to have an image of our new family unit in 3d.

    So we were somewhat taken aback to discover that actually it would cost at least £35 for our 3 printouts!

    This is a ‘free-event’ in the sense that going to a football match and standing outside whilst listening to the sound of the crowd is a ‘free-event’ or watching people eat through the windows of a restaurant is also another… you get my drift here.

    After having made it to the library, and already quite keen to have the experience, my wife took a seat while I went to ask the two people sat next to the exhibit whether the scanning process is safe for pregnant women. I then had the ignominious experience of getting to stand across a table (nice ‘us and them’ touch) being studiously ignored: firstly by ‘an artist’ who was very busy explaining to a ‘customer’ about what a great artist he was and the importance of DIY culture, whilst his, I presume, assistant gazed adoringly at the ‘artist’, or looked halfheartedly at a computer monitor whilst occasionally prodding a mouse like our daughter pushes a piece of lettuce around her plate, most definitely studiously avoiding any eye-contact with myself. This ‘assistant’ is a bloke in his 40′s! You should be ashamed, the pair of you.

    Perhaps the pair of them actually did us a favour as up until then we almost fell for it and were on the cusp of handing over the cash having made it that far. Instead we left.

    We can’t help but notice the sheer number of commercial sponsors on the bottom of the flyers for this event so we are flabbergasted that along with getting someone else to pay for the printers (for you to make use of as you wish once the festival has finished no doubt), cover wages and either hire or even buy the scanner as well. Then it seems the so-called artists and their corporate set-ups are happy to fleece the public whilst paying lip service to perceived popular buzz-jargon. Or is this some kind of secret art-prank were you’re all busy laughing at the stupidity of people, and in line with popular tv culture you see no reason to not only make the public perform and do the work for you but to make them pay for the privilege also? The sliding scale of charges for the figures is the perfect example of the capitalist bent of this whole proceeding – buy more pay slightly less, don’t worry it’s all going in our back pocket regardless.

    And please don’t insult our intelligence by telling us how expensive the printers are to run – they’re not, and that’s the beauty of them.

    There are many other places (hackspaces, libraries, community spaces, museums) that are managing to exploit the potential offered through these wonderful new devices without fleecing and/or treating the participants like fools.

    The exhortations on the advertising to ‘hurry and book as spaces are limited’ now comes across as snake-oil sales technique.

    Fight back people – don’t go.

    Dear person who checks comments,

    If you feel the urge to not post this on your site as a form of censorship can I just confirm that I will be posting this comment way farther and wider than the bottom of your website and will make sure that it comes to the notice of as many people as I can muster.

    Yours sincerely,

    Julian Brooks

    • Jess @ BDF

      Hi Julian,

      Sorry to hear your expectations weren’t met on Break the Mould. Since you were unable to have a talk with the facilitators at Jubilee Library about the project, allow me to direct you to the organiser’s profile for Developing Dreams, who’ve commissioned and organised the artwork to be part of BDF2013. As a grassroots, community-led festival, we think it’s important for attendees and organisers to have conversations about the work, and get perspective on the various stylistic and practical decisions such as costs and sponsorships.

      Please let us know how you get on. We’ll certainly have a chat with them about amendeding their pricing information on their event entry.

      All the best!

    • Hello Julian,

      We appreciate your feedback and are sorry to hear of your perception of this event. Firstly, I am happy to report that the majority of people have been overwhelmingly positive about the experience and genuinely excited and fascinated by the combination of grass roots experimental technology and art.

      Many people have enjoyed seeing the willow sculpture of a pregnant lady that surrounds the scanner and watching the whole process of being scanned and digitised, we have also had many interesting discussions about the application of this early stage technology with people from all walks of life and are certainly happy to discuss the installation whenever we have the opportunity.

      I feel your comments about the artist and ‘assistant’ to be largely misdirected if you are referring to the technology operators. We designed and built the scanner as a prototype for this installation and set up the end to end technology that allows people to be scanned and 3D printed. It has been hard work and certainly not something we are ashamed of, in fact quite the opposite. The tables are set up in the way they are as we have to conform to health and safety requirements of the library, we wouldn’t want visitors to be tiptoeing around cables and dodging power supplies and motors.

      We are working with huge 3D files and therefore there is a lot of processing time involved, certainly no opportunity for ‘adoration’ or ‘mouse prodding’. At the Maker Faire we were lucky enough to scan and print two of the BBC technical correspondents from the program Click and they were as equally fascinated as most others. This is early stage technology and we have kept the pricing low enough for it to be accessible while being able to cover part of the costs of the installation and allow the general public to experience the technology first hand.

      We are certainly not about ‘making the public perform’, and this was designed to be the antithesis of that kind of ‘popular culture’. Break the mould is about people being able to create a one off print of themselves in bio plastic (PLA) and is a comment against mass production and manufacturing amongst other things, so certainly not Orwellian in its nature either.

      Viewing the installation and experiencing how the technology works is free, but there is a charge for scans and prints. The sliding scale – £20 for a single scan (of which you can keep the 3D files) and an 8cm figure print, £35 for a couple, and £45 for a family is designed to be inclusive and reductive and actually the opposite of a ‘capitalist bent’ or ‘buy more pay less’. As a parent of 2 I know how frustrating it is when you suddenly have to pay almost 4 times the adult rate for something.

      The printers are not expensive to run but they are time consuming, as is setting up a large installation. A single figure takes approximately an hour and a half to print and the data has to be processed additionally to make it happen, this is not ‘plug and play’ technology yet as I am sure you are aware, but experimental. We are simply asking people to book time slots so they are not left waiting or are disappointed that they are not able to get scanned immediately due to demand, you are more than welcome to just turn up and see if slots are available however.

      Julian, please feel free to get in touch via our profile. You are more than welcome to engage us even if we are busy.

      I would welcome anyone else who visits or has visited the installation to add their views or comments about their experience.

      Many thanks.

  2. Steve

    I can’t believe anyone complaining about having to pay £35 for a 3d print out of the 3 of them!!

    Tight as!

    I think that is an excellent price seeing as what the equipment etc must cost..

    Some people see the word FREE and expect everything for FREE!!

    Imagine how expensive it would work out giving out free 3D prints to anyone that asked!!

    No idea!!

  3. Thanks for your comment Steve! Even though the prices for desktop 3D printers is going down, the source material is still expensive. We have put a lot of time and effort as well as money into this installation… only a fraction of the costs is covered by in-kind sponsorship from Ultimaker, Faberdashery, MCR Print, a small grant from the Arts Council and the sale of mini figures. We did keep the prices down intentionally, because we wanted the experience to be affordable and accessible to everyone!

  4. Rob

    On the train to Brighton, somewhat spontaneously, excited to visit this project, I thought I’d invite some Brighton friends and double check on route the location.

    And then I see that it’s “all booked up”. My Brighton friends – just now arrived – confirm this.

    So I’m half way on a journey to see a thing I can’t engage with. Great.

    And yet – aware that this might be a popular exhibit – over the last couple of weeks I’ve checked whether it’s possible to actually ‘book’ a slot. Only the WORKSHOP has booking links. There is no facility or information listed on how one can book a slot for scanning and printing. If they’re tacitly the same thing, there is no clear information that says this.

    Come on guys – a really basic thing to deal with here, and as the cutting edge of digital art and social engagement you would have thought this would be a) less Brighton-centric, b) more effective at disseminating info and use of better booking structures and c) given it popularity: an extended run!

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