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My upcoming book Hacking Experience: New Tools from Cognitive Science for Artists is in preparation for Punctum Books (NYC). It's a book that translates cognitive science into tools that radically enhance the way artists tell stories. I design experiences in the physical world as a form of myth making by harnessing attention and spatial rhetoric. I'm also principal designer for Geologic Cognition Society, a post-disciplinary research-driven design group. I've lived in ChicagoEngland, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Hawai'i (among other places), Hawaii made the most sense to me. At the moment, I live in Ohio and I'm exploring the Great Lakes region for a few projects I'm wrapping up.

Find me on Twitter @RyanDewey, or get in touch here.


95% of ocean pollution is plastics, but we still market 3D printing pens to children. Geologists discovered plastiglomerate in the sedimentary profiles of the beaches in Hawai'i, it was from ocean trash and beach plastic that melted in beach fires and filled the vesicles of basalt lava. This is an irony because volcanoes are the original 3D printer, printing landforms like the Hawai'ian Islands.

In response to this absurdity, I purchased a 3D printing pen in 2014 and drew out this maquette:

Here is the profile view of the maquette:

3D printing is mimetic of the volcanic process. In fact, you can see that the layers of plastic in this piece even resemble the lapping texture of pahoehoe lava. 3D printing is geomimicry.

Additive manufacturing is a layering process. On the reverse side of the maquette these layers are visible. Some people critique 3D printing pens and argue that they are nothing more than sophisticated glue guns, and that true 3D printing requires a CNC control to print with precision on the XYZ axes. But the idea with a 3D printing pen is to make it possible to use plastic as a drawing tool, and hand-to-eye coordination and the arm of the person using the drawing tool is the control mechanism. It is sloppy. It is not as precise as a computerized 3D printer, and these facts are why I chose to use it. The sloppiness is what gives it the oozing texture of lava, the lack of precision is what makes it a drawing tool and the reduction in cost in the process of turning 3D printing into a "toy" is what makes 3D printing pens a contributor to the production of worthless plastic crap.

For the larger version of this sculpture I printed more precise letters by first printing out the text in a large font, and then extruding plastic directly onto the paper. I was able to peel away the paper afterwards and came up with these sentences:

At this stage, the larger scale sculpture is taking shape. I broke three 3D printing pens and consumed multiple spools of ABS plastic filament, totally over $600 in material resources. 

Here is the piece hanging on a wall in an unfinished state:

A detail of the solidified lava:

A detail of the flying lava:

Here is the maquette next to the larger work. I painted the background in this mock-up to see what it would look like, but in the final piece I'll forego painting - I think it looks terrible. I'm filling in the black, leaving the top raw red, and extending the crest and cascade of the lava wave. Part of me thinks I should keep the work at maquette size and scrap the larger piece, but I'm not so sure yet.

Here is my source image, a USGS image of a lava fountain on a Hawai'ian shield volcano that I overlaid with a blocky text: