Programmed to behave as a natural phenomenon the "Virtual Prometheus" is a digital entity, predicated on organic principles, it has potential for parametric growth and evolution.  Derived from topological constructs, it mimics biological behaviour. Its formation within the computer program, establishes immateriality as an essential characteristic.  The digital flower is made to grow and unfold from a bud, tracking the natural progression of its botanical counterpart. In the generation and animation, of the "Virtual Prometheus" every point of information retains its potential to be reconfigured. There is no finality to any of the modifications, as the entity retains a sense of the “before and after” and in every iteration, a transitory moment is retained.  This makes it a wonderful and infuriating proposition at one and the same time. It is this being-in-between that makes it analogous to the plight of Prometheus - caught in an ever-regenerative state, between life and death.

 PROMETHEUS

 

 

'...the fire that he steals for mortals has come to represent the spirit of technology, forbidden knowledge, the conscious intellect, political power and artistic inspiration.' Carol Dougherty

 

Virtual Prometheus 2010

Animation view showing the rigging and animation armature.

 

Virtual Prometheus 2010

Animation view showing the outer skin of the entity.

The "Actual Prometheus" is modelled as a flower composed of a head and stem.  The entity is made to grow and behave as a natural flower - organically whole and connected to the  environmental factors that enable its development. The entity formed in virtual space, is independent of nutrients necessary for life, it is however dependent on a lateral electro-biological symbiosis – linked to that of the computer and its operator.  It is provided with an electronic metabolism in which its life is an open-ended temporality.  Capturing key frames from this life is analogous to taking a photograph - freezing one moment from the sequence eliminates (that moment’s) potential for further growth.

 

The Actual Prometheus 2010

Laser sintered polyamid

Series of six iterations from the animation.

 

The Actual Prometheus (a virtual sculpture made actual) is formed from powder fused by heat, and has the ability (through its virtual origin) to regenerate and become manifest in modified form.  In its transformation from information to material, it moves between timeless (virtual) and timed (actual) instances of reality.

 

 Instances extracted from the animated Virtual Prometheus enter the flow of time, having originated in a world of pure information. Intensive information thus becomes extensive material.  In its physical manifestation, The Prometheus achieves its ultimate gestalt.  The separate virtual elements of petals, corolla and stem (each with its inherent meta-structure) now coalesce and become undifferentiated. The animated motion ceases (or its kinetic potential is removed) and the fixed entity enters the real time of actual reality. Instances of the digital animation now form a concrete animation - a sequence of physical manifestations derived from selected moments of its digital life.

 

  This inversion of the conception of actuality into the actuality of conception, is a paradigmatic event. The sculptures, although currently existing in the present as fixed material, had an evolutionary past, and may also have an evolutionary future. The Actual Prometheus begins to age from the moment of its materialization. Here a paradox arises -  the animate entity enters the flow of time as a frozen materialized moment, while the virtual entity retains its transitory potential and may continue to evolve in a timeless information space. Permutations of The Actual Prometheus are of one digital genetic entity and are not (as they may appear) a series of different flowers - of the same species.  In the natural world we are used to seeing flowers of the same species, each with an (almost) identical structure and pattern.  Each is in fact unique, just as any biological entity is a unique instance of a species.  Contrastingly, the manifestations of The Actual Prometheus are discrete clones of one time-based transitional entity. The unique quality they bear - is that each is a frozen instance of a continuum.

Image slices from the virtual entity are sequentially deposited to form a tangible object. Laser sinter. virtual art. 3D print.
 
The Actual Prometheus 2010 (detail)
 
Detail of the layers of information (effectively images of its interior volume) used to print the The Actual Prometheus. Charles Baudelaire claimed in his humorous critique  The Modern Public and Photography: ‘if an industrial process could give us a result identical to nature that would be absolute art’. While photography went a significant way in realizing this aspiration, rapid prototyping has closed the loop and extended the photographic process (through a sequence of photographic layers) into three dimensions. The rapid prototype is a form of natural accretion (the deposition and fusion of particles) under the control and guidance of the computer user.  The natural growth of form using numerical codes now happens in the computer lab - in a conscious and predetermined manner.   Baudelaire would be amused.
The sequence is combined to form a cluster of clones of the one genetic entity.

 

Prometheus Bound 2012

Laser sintered polyamid.

Five iterations from the animation bound and  presented in a dome glass case.

Animate entity made concrete in a sequence of iterations.
 
The Actual Prometheus 2010
Laser sintered polyamid
Series of six iterations from the animation.
 
In exhibiting the Actual Prometheus, an oblong Perspex case was made to enable the six (key frame) entities to be presented in sequence.  The result was a formal arrangement of an architectural nature.   The stems tended to ground the entities towards the base of the case, and this grounding was the antithesis of their virtual origins.
laser sinter, digital information made manifest. Virtual animation turned material.Digital sculpture. 3D print art. Contemporary art.
 
Prometheus Bound 2012
Laser sintered polyamid.
Five iterations from the animation bound and presented in a dome glass case.
 
A  version of the series was subsequently re-deployed and bound into a small “bouquet” of five entities.  This arrangement, titled Prometheus Bound, provided a means to overcome the formality of sequential presentation, and served to combine the elements into a single exhibit.  It also enabled the concept of one flower produced in several iterations to be made evident in a particularly evocative manner.