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Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital

Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Through June 1, 2014 

Artists featured in this survey highlight futuristic production methodologies that shape the design and architectural practices of today. Richard Dupont uses modeling software to produce an anatomic data-driven self-portrait while Zaha Hadid creates a table that freezes a water vortex in transparent plexiglass. Both exemplify digital design applications that distort and reinvent the built environment.

Caraballo-Farman's provocative Object Breast Cancer (above) transforms MRIs of Leonor Caraballo's malignant breast tumor into bronze sculpture and jewelry by using computer imaging technology that allows human beings to view and understand the body on a higher level of sophistication than ever before. An innovation by 3D Systems seamlessly re-creates a missing limb through a nylon prosthetic leg cover that can be customized with patterns, materials, and graphics.

Although this show emphasizes the ease with which we can "materialize the postdigital" with advanced technologies, it does not account for the current state of environmental vulnerability caused by mass production. How can these tools enable us to learn from the past and help protect us from the realities now upon us? It is time to contemplate the intention behind the objects currently created for all aspects of the built environment and to use technology to design products that are ecologically efficient, responsive to current needs, and also capable of adapting to the evolving urban landscape.