I’ve been collaborating with Bryan Cera on a new project called: Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set. It is close to completion — this is a preview.

Our project recreates Marcel Duchamp’s hand-carved wooden chess set as a 3D model for 3D printing. Duchamp’s original chess set has been lost and exists only this photograph.

We call this process a Readymake — a play on Duchamp’s Readymade — one that recreates objects that exist only in documentation and transforms them into 3D-printable forms that anyone with access to a 3D printer can print.

duchamp_set_ref_image1These prints are using the Object printers that I am working with while an artist-in-residence at Autodesk — which are resin-based prints: VeroBlack, VeroWhite and VeroClear.


A key concept of the readymake is that each printer will have subtle inconsistencies in its manufacturing process. If you look closely at this rook, you can see the layers of resin as the rook was printed as well as some scratches in the surface of the rook from the scraping and cleaning process. Although it is digital, because there is material involved, every piece is slightly different.


Some of the background which led to this project: Duchamp’s lifelong passion was the game of chess, in which he was ranked as a Master and played for the French national team. He claimed to love chess more than art.

This project stemmed from my Playing Duchamp  (2010) artwork, commissioned by Turbulence.org — in which I reprogrammed an online chess computer to play chess as if it were Marcel Duchamp.


Some of the other pieces came out beautifully such as this VeroClear version of the knight. Here are several more images.

The full project description is below.


veroclear_3 vb_rook_queen
Full Project Description:
Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set is a 3D-printed chess set generated from an archival photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s own custom and hand-carved game. His original physical set no longer exists. We have resurrected the lost artifact by digitally recreating it, and then making the 3D files available for anyone to print.

Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s readymade — an ordinary manufactured object that the artist selected and modified for exhibition — the readymake brings the concept of the appropriated object to the realm of the internet, exploring the web’s potential to re-frame information and data, and their reciprocal relationships to matter and ideas. Readymakes transform photographs of objects lost in time into shared 3D digital spaces to provide new forms and meanings.

While 3D digital models are a relatively new commodity, the possibilities for digital fabrication have been rapidly proliferating. Digital relics in the form of images and archival photographs are abundant, and offer a means to rework the value of the art object, making them a perfect starting point for this experiment.

Most importantly, a readymake does not exist solely as a virtual object. Every readymake that is downloaded and produced will see subtle inconsistencies in computer numerical controlled manufacturing – along with the varying 3D printing technologies, variants of specific printer designs, and unique combinations of software and hardware commonly used in ubiquitous DIY digital fabrication systems – always yielding unique results.

Duchamp said in the 1960s, about his readymade creations, “I’m not at all sure that the concept of the readymade isn’t the most important single idea to come out of my work.” Today, in an age of digital fabrication and open source design, the boundaries between concept and object continue to blur.  We invite other thinkers and makers to join our exploration of conceptual-material formations — to discover and create with our readymakes, and contribute their own.