Morehshin Allahyari is a new media artist, art activist, educator, and occasional curator. In most of her recent projects, she makes intensive use of 3D printing, which she sees as the heart of the “Additivism” approach. Here, the 3D printer is seen as a metaphor for our times and considered a “tool for art, design and engineering, and gesturing in the direction ofs a forthcoming era of synthetic chemistry and biological augmentation, 3D fabrication technologies are may already a site of common exchange between disciplines and forms of materiality.”
The Additivist Manifesto and the upcoming Additivist Cookbook are a few of the projects which Morehshin is involved in to push the boundaries of what is possible with 3D printing. In line with this approach, her latest project, the yet in-progress Material Speculation series, uses digital fabrication and 3D printing to inspect the petropolitical and poetic relationships between 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism, and Jihad.
Morehshin was born and raised in Iran and moved to the United States in 2007. Her work extensively deals with the political, social, and cultural contradictions we face each day. She views technology as a “philosophical toolset to reflect on objects; a poetic mean to document the personal and collective lives we live and our struggles as humans in the 21st century.”
With her work, Morehshin has been part of numerous exhibitions, festivals, and workshops around the world. She has in addition been an artist in residence at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Autodesk Pier9 Workshop in San Francisco (where she is in addition the Co-Founder of the Experimental Research Lab), and BANFF Centre (2013), among others.
In the initial series produced for her latest project, “Material Speculation: ISIS”, the artist explores the use of 3D modeling and 3D printing for the reconstruction of selected (original) artifacts which were destroyed by ISIS in 2015. These include both statues of the Roman period city of Hatra and Assyrian artifacts of Nineveh. She implements 3D printing as a practical and political possibility for artifact archival, while in addition proposing the technology as a tool for resistance, documentation and as a system for repairing history and memory.
While this is not the initial time which an artist has utilized 3D printing as a means of reproducing and safeguarding a few of the ancient treasures destroyed by ISIS militia, Morehshin’s project goes beyond 3D printing the lost artifacts in high resolution, transparent resin. The objects in addition include a flash drive and a memory card within the body of each element. Similar to Time Capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations, with instructions on how to open the artifacts to access the memory drives without destroying the objects themselves. The information in these flash drives includes images, maps, pdf files, and videos gathered in the last months on the artifacts and sites which were destroyed.
These materials were sourced through an intense research system involving contact with archaeologists, historians, and museum staff (of Mosul Museum to archaeologists and historians in Iraq and Iran). In the coming months and as the final stage of the project, these 3D printable files will be archived and available online to download and be utilized by the public.
The loss of priceless works of art of the past has certainly struck a chord even among individuals in the West who see the actual ongoing conflicts as being yet far away and having little effects own their lives. Unfortunately, 3D printing can do little today to bring back the lives and the possessions of all the innocents which are suffering in the region ravaged by war and terrorism. It can, yet, help to strengthen statement which history cannot be deleted and forgotten.