A vase made of godwit calling

A vase made of godwit calling
Jonathan Keep uses sound recordings to design ceramics that are printed in 3D. The sound of a frightened godwit created a clamorous vase.

It is quite obvious: the green glazed small vase Raerd looks a bit alarmed: it is a bit similar to a little bird with its feathers upright. Coincidence or not: the pointy design has been made with the alarm cries of a godwit chick. Three other vases look a little more regular. They have been made with the calling of a calm godwit or Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

The British artist Jonathan Keep made these designs with the use of a 3D printer. Tuesday and Wednesday he gave a workshop to Frisian designers in De Blokhuispoort in Leeuwarden on how he taught himself this form of art. He also brought his home-made printer and several ceramic art objects he has made with it in the last three years. Keep uses all kinds of effects to create his designs, such as the effect of water drops falling on a water surface.

He came up with the idea to use sound as a ‘designer’ because of something nature filmmaker David Attenborough said. “He said that when you slowly play a recording of bird sounds, it resembles human music,” the British artist explains.

The principle of a 3D printer is not much different from a technique in pottery where you create a pot or vase by putting layers of clay strings on to of each other. Wet clay comes out of the nozzle of the printer, building up the art object layer by layer. Making a normal, regular vase, the printer turns neat round circles, but by releasing the sound waves to the designing programme, you get an irregular, coarse piece, that can’t be reproduced by hand.
To Keep, who has been an artist and craft potter for years, this doesn’t mean all his experience and knowledge have become useless. “I know the material and how to treat it. Besides, a 3D printer can make very interesting things, but to make it art you would always need a human to judge it.”

Photo caption: A 3D printer squirts clay into a vase designed by Jonathan Keep (in the background). In the foreground the vase that was designed using goodwit calling.

(Photo: Fotobureau Hoge Noorden/ Jacob van Essen)