The legitimacy of the 3D printer as both artistic tool and artistic medium
: assessing the nature and aesthetics of 3D printing artistic output and the effect that 3D-printing may have on the borders of the creative landscape

  • Catherine Scott

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The purpose of this research is to establish the legitimacy of 3D printing as both artistic process and medium, and thereon its effect on the Creative Landscape of Making and Causing to be made. Based on the preliminary project description, ‘Exploring emerging practice at the boundaries between craft and design’ this research analysed the nature of emerging creative-practices, primarily associated with 3D printing, and sought to determine the boundaries by mapping the ontology of the creative landscape. Using Design Thinking methods, those Processes, Outputs and Practitioners involved in Art, Craft and Design, were systematically cross-referenced, then assessed from the point of view of both the producer (agent and actor) and the end user (value). David Pye’s thinking, on the nature of Workmanship, forms the foundation of the initial landscape map, which is subsequently analysed through the ‘lens’ of 3D printing to identify where this technology may cause disruption. The most significant findings are that: • Isolating Workmanship, within the artistic process, identifies those actions that may be executed without agency and therefore could be carried out by machine (automated and/or computerised) without affecting the creative input. • Identifying Creative Agency, as component of creativity, beyond the capabilities of the machine, validated the premise that 3D printers cannot disrupt processes, within the Creative Landscape of making and causing be made, that require Creative Agency The methodology follows a pragmatic approach - it is grounded contextually but constructed generally in that the findings are transferable, and the reasoning mainly abductive. This research attests the validity of 3D-printing as both artistic tool and artistic medium; it proposes that a definition of Craftsmanship should be: an attribute of an action where Workmanship and Creative Agency have been applied in combination; 9 and posits the hypothesis that: there exists, a cross-disciplinary Association of artistic output, processes and practitioners, whose relationship is understood through the lens of 3D Printing.
Date of AwardMay 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Moore (Supervisor) & Ralf Sander (Supervisor)


  • Creative Agency
  • Workmanship
  • Craftmanship
  • Creativity
  • 3D-Printing
  • Additive manufacture
  • Algorithmic creativity
  • David Pye
  • Digital-craft

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