the digital morphogenesis - 'a generative tool for the derivation of form and its transformation'. Branko Kolarevic.

Working with digital technologies, I am not not concerned with the simulated space of the virtual, but with products of a dialectical relationship between virtual and actual.  I cross the divide that Hannah Arendt identifies between “contemplation, observation, and speculation” and that of “making and fabricating”. My practice repeatedly passes between domains - while I acknowledge and define the boundaries between them. The laser sinter process  enables this process  - providing tangible form to digital constructs.

Translating a virtual entity into an object, gives rise to actual form in which the translation itself is a central proposition.  Ideas projected become objects of encounter. This is important, as materialization triggers reflexivity, providing feedback and enabling evolution.  Absence of touch and loss of haptic encounter (associated with digital synthesis) are restored  in virtual - actual translations. Entities modelled in the weightless, frictionless virtual space, are made tangible and fully comprehensible. Knowledge is fed back into the cycle, and a form of diachronic knowing is established and evolved. This is evident in using animation-modeling software. An entity, iterated over time, extends its virtual origins into phased material instances.


In the serial productions Prometheus and Speaking Flower, instances of each are derived from a singular origin. Each is a specific iteration, linked within the dynamic series to the original entity, bearing and maintaining homologous points and transitional relations. Each is linked to the series through its structure, with the added phenomenon of duration - manifest in its parametric transformation.


A sense of the virtual is actualized and returned to the system, enabling a specific evolution - stemming from two contrasting domains. The creative thought process (verified alongside its virtual existence) is made external and accountable. In this process, consciousness itself flows through the waves, wires and screens that reflect back an outer sense of being. The organic flow of human and biological existence is extended into a spatio-temporal dynamic manifestation. A sense of the ‘before and after’ is established, and with it the potential for tectonic form and evolution. In this sense, knowledge is not only restored through memory, it is made manifest within the system. The contextual understanding of past states enables their future evolution.


The reflexive computer interface enables cognitive manifestations to be given form and made material. The point of encounter with the materialized entity tests its hypothetical delineation.  An inversion of principles is noted - while virtual space provides a parallel consciousness - as pure information it exists outside time and outside actual life.  Materialization of the virtual entity fixes mutability and petrifies a specific moment from its transition. In its actual manifestation, the entity connects with the living space of reality: it enters the flow of actual time. The crystalline printed object (combining both virtual and actual phenomena) reflects and refracts light, before ultimately tarnishing - as its physicality collides with the flow of existence.

Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture. computer generated object. morphogenesis.

Crown of Thorns 2013,

Laser sintered polymer, 37x40x15 CMS.


As a powerful symbol of Christianity, the Crown of Thorns is associated with humiliation, torture, and suffering. In this virtual /actual entity, there is a connection between the sacred and virtual, and between the profane and the actual.  In its material manifestation this work sets the sensation of a known phenomenon into the conscious process. It emerges as an arrangement of random thorns grown from a single strand - of which there is neither a beginning nor an end.   To build this structure by hand would not be feasible, as it is composed of a continuous loop of thorns which defy manual intervention.  In projecting its form into the virtual and subsequently encountering it as material, the object transcends the gravity and friction of the actual world and presents its free-form conception in the full materiality of known sensation.



Untangling the virtual real from the virtual actual.


Crown of Thorns 2013,

Detail of the looped strand.


Crown of Thorns 2013,

Digital structure.

Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture. computer generated object. morphogenesis. Irish art.


Bed of Thorns 2013

Laser sintered polyamide, 37x25x6 CMS





In contemporary western culture the expression “a bed of nails” implies hardship or suffering of an ongoing nature.  The bed of nails - traditionally used by Tantric Yoga Masters, despite looking extremely dangerous, it is not a significant threat to the user. Likewise, a bed of thorns will not cause harm, if the frequency of points provides sufficient support. Bed of Thorns  attempts to convey a different prospect. The sparse distribution of points would ostensibly pierce the flesh of a resting person.   The presence of dangerous fixed spikes interspersed between the padding of a mattress could cause pain, suffering and inevitably harm.

Andrew Folan. Digital sculpture. Contemporary digital art. Computer generated sculpture.
Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture. computer generated object. morphogenesis. Rapid prototype art.


Bed of Thorns (detail) 2013

Laser sintered polyamide.


In reference to the combined interiority and exteriority of the virtual modelling process, the internal structure of the bed is exposed, revealing its potentially danger.  Under the bed, within the normally concealed interior of the mattress, the spikes stand waiting! The virtual modeling process enabled me to work below the surface and facilitated the “crafting” of the hidden elements. The “deep button” padding is designed to provide an enticing and comfortable surface.  In Bed of Thorns a hidden threat is waiting.  Referencing questions of surface and its embedding of realities, both actual and virtual (explored in my earlier photographic interventions) this work deals with an actual surface, its perforation and what lies behind (or beneath) it.

Irish contemporary art. Printed sculpture.  emulating human speech. Digital material manifestation.
Speaking Flower (2013) Laser sintered polyamide and unspun silk thread (six iterations).
The connectivity of the digital, extant in the sintered entity, may be evidenced as a morphogenetic flow. This is most evident when the instances of the sintered entities are viewed in relation to each other.  As in digital animation processes (from which they originate) connectivity and flow over a period of time are essential to understanding this transformation.



I establish flower-like entities and evolve them as protean forms within virtual space.  Derived from The Prometheus, Speaking Flower is modelled without a stem. Deliberately uncoupled from biological plant specimens, this entity is established as a product of a truly virtual origin. The petal structure, derived (once more) from the topology of the Klein Bottle, passes through itself in a continuous flow. Both inner and outer petals are present and are connected in a looped form. To alter one petal or any part of the loop has an implied effect on related parts.  Using digital animation techniques, I change its morphology by dragging the entity through itself, making its components merge and re-emerge, while maintaining structural connectivity. This “rubber sheet topology” allows for vertices and edges to pass through each other without impact. This non-Euclidean geometry is freed from the logistics of the physical world. Individual postures of the entity are ultimately translated into materialized iterations.

Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture. computer generated object. morphogenesis.


Speaking Flower details of the structure and transformations


The evolved petal has a “throat like” structure and its sequential transformation suggested to me that it could be understood to have a voice. A digital entity with potential to speak (that will not in this case speak) alludes to the inherent forces that enable its structural morphogenesis.


The entity utters in all but actual sound – throwing forward its "tongue" in shapes that emulate human speech.  Here reference is made to lip reading in which speech is not heard, but is fully understood from visual references.  Spoken sounds have no materiality and the digital drivers that enable the entity are equally devoid of substance - it passes through itself in a manner that can emulate but not generate the sound of speech..

A virtual flower smitten with love. Andrew Folan - Morphogensis series. Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture.
 Andrew Folan. Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary digital sculpture. computer generated object. Rapid prototype art.
Morphogenesis.  Exhibition of digital 3D prints. Rapid prototyoe sculpture.  Laser sinter entities.  Contemporary art.
Digital – actual translations;  Irish Digital Artist; Contemporary Digital Sculpture.
 Digital virtual – actual transformations. Laser sinter sculpture.