Marching Cubes: An Interactive 3D-Printed Art Installation

Marching Cubes by Jesse Colin Jackson

Wolfpack team members from Airwolf 3D recently got the most incredible behind-the-scenes look at Artist and Professor Jesse Colin Jackson’s compelling art installation, Marching Cubes.

In the past, Airwolf 3D has supported Jesse’s incredible work with Casa Del Sol, an award-winning entry into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

More recently, we were incredibly excited to support Jesse and his SPAM (short for “Specialists in Plastic Additive Manufacturing”) Team from the Speculative Prototyping Lab at UC-Irvine on their newest project, Marching Cubes.

Marching Cubes is a compelling, interactive art installation that incorporates 1,600 3D-printed magnetic blocks that can be fit together in a myriad of shapes and configurations.

The installation is named for the “Marching Cubes” algorithm upon which it is based. The Marching Cubes algorithm is one that is used in computer graphics to create scan data images, such as CT and MRI scans used in the medical field. The process is a way of expressing three-dimensional data, so that it can be visualized on a computer screen.

Marching Cubes Toronto
Marching Cubes brings a computer algorithm to life through 3D-printed physical representation.//PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse Colin Jackson

As Jesse explained, the exhibit aims to “take something that lives in a computer and make it physical.” And, by doing so, it “becomes a toy and it becomes playful.”

Jesse selected PLA as his material of choice for the piece because he liked its color and subtle translucency. With a need for over 300kg of filament, it was also a more cost-effective choice than other materials.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse Colin Jackson

The exhibit itself is dramatic, engrossing, and evokes the feel of performance art as much as it does sculpture. The blocks sit in a spotlight in a darkened room, with 3D printers neatly lined up as if they are watching over the exhibit that they were commissioned to create.

Jesse and his team present the blocks both as perfectly configured sculptures that they assemble themselves, but also as an interactive exhibit where visitors are invited to play with the blocks and explore the Marching Cubes algorithm in a physical, tangible way that was not previously possible.

Marching Cubes is a must-see exhibit that will fascinate art-lovers, techies, and kids alike. Catch it while you can on Nov. 17 – Dec. 14, 2017 at the Pari Nadimi Gallery in Toronto.

The Airwolf 3D AXIOMs used to 3D print the piece’s blocks also serve as an artistic element in the installation.//Photo Credit: Jesse Colin Jackson