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Students in Kimberly Voigt’s Digital Fabrication class have created a “Cabinet of Curiosity” – a digital one. It is modeled after the ‘wonder rooms’ of the nineteeth- century, which, like today’s museums, were small connections of extraordinary objects that told stories about the wonders and oddities of the natural world.

The class – offered as an elective in all majors - is aimed at teaching students how to integrate digital technologies into their own practice. For a class project, the students created work digitally on the computer. They then utilized the 3-D printer, laser cutter and engraver and digital embroidery machine in Moore’s “Fab Lab,” also known as a fabrication lab, to create a "cabinet" filled with boxes containing novelty items. This state- of- the-art digital laboratory is available for all BFA and graduate students, once they are properly trained.

Moore's cabinet tells "a digital story about the artists' creative interests and how digital works can become tangible through Moore's Fab Lab," according to the project description. Objects in the cabinet include a 3-D printed spiral bowl, a digitally embroidered flower, tiny aliens and a clear bird.

On Thursday, the students installed the collaborative project in a window of Wilson Hall. The work will be on view through April 20. Besides working collaboratively on the installation, the students are also using the Fab Lab for individual projects that are specific to their practice.

“This is the first time this class has been offered and the Fab Lab is also fairly new,” said Voigt, adjunct professor of Fine Arts. “As the College puts a greater emphasis on technology, more teachers are integrating digital technology into their classes and curriculum.”

“These objects [in the installation] are examples of integrating multiple technologies together," she added. "There are scans of fossils, for example, that have been laser scanned and the students downloaded the digital files from a website and then 3-D printed them.”

Helen Webster, a senior Fine Arts major, is a project contributor and has made several visits to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, America’s finest museum of medical history. The Mütter Museum is an example of the nineteeth- century “Cabinet of Curiosity”.  The museum displays beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, model and medical instruments in a “cabinet museum” setting.

“It was a popular idea when museums first came out, as a way to showcase oddities and get people to want to come visit,” Webster said. “I use the Fab Lab three times a week for this class and I also monitor students as a Fab Lab technician.”

Emily Eggly, a junior Art Education major, used the digital embroidery machine to create works to place in the cabinet. This was her first experience using the Fab Lab.  “It taught me there are a lot of different ways to use machinery that can be integrated into more traditional art making practices,” she said. “In Art Education, we have to have experience in all mediums. This will help enhance my skill set.”

Lindsey O’Brien, a sophomore Interactive & Motion Arts major, helped with 3-D printing and designing what would go in the boxes, including miniature 3-D printed chess pieces. She had prior experience using 3-D printers in high school.  “I’m a 3-D based artist, so I can take objects I made to the Fab Lab and print them out,” she said. “But through this project I developed a better understanding of how the Fab Lab works, what to expect, and the different things that can go wrong. There’s always a chance that something might not come out right. We call that a ‘failed print.’”

Published on April 16th, 2015