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3D Voice Print of Neil GERSHENFELD “What is a FabLab?” Created by Gilles Azzaro

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The Toulouse FabLab ARTILECT continues to expand and a new component – ARTILECT LAB – was recently created to meet new professional requirements by accompanying the emergence of innovative technological projects. For the occasion, I was asked to create a 3D Voice Print work that would be revealed to the public during the inauguration ceremony of the new  “Salle des Machines” area.

I decided to create a work that was directly linked to the FabLab’s activity. “The most important was to give a meaning to the work – the FabLab is a place I know like the back of my hand, it is part of me”.

A 3D Voice Print for all FabLabs

DSC_0125It suddenly became obvious: the voice I needed to materialise was that of the man behind the FabLabs: Neil GERSHENFELD who I had met at a number of occasions at the Toulouse FabLab and also at the Maker Faire White House where my sculpture ‘Barack Obama – Next Industrial Revolution’ was used to set the tone for the event and which was exhibited on stage next to President Obama during his opening speech.

I contacted Neil GERSHENFELD to request an audio recording of his voice and his definition of the FabLabs. He was really keen on the idea and sent me a 23-second recording that was to become the basis of the sculpture. “FabLabs are a global network of local labs that are democratizing access to digital fabrications allowing anyone to make almost anything. With the technical goal of FabLabs making FabLabs, together they are asking and answering how we will live, learn, work and play in a world where data can become things and things can become data.

After modelling his definition, it took over 200 hours with two 3D printers to print out the 1.8 metre sculpture – the oak surround and Plexiglas casing measures 2 metres. In true FabLab tradition, a team of FabLab employees and volunteers joined forces to work on the project together: Left to right : Pierre GAUTIER: Woodwork (FabLab ARTILECT) Paul GRENET: Electronics (FabLab ARTILECT) Thomas GROUGON: Design (Artilect Lab) Gilles AZZARO: Artist – 3D printing (Fablab Artilect), Xavier SCHAEFFER: programming (FabLab ARTILECT) Philippe SEMANAZ – Technical Guru: mechanical integration and programming (Artilect Lab).

In Tour with Neil’s 3D Voice Print

DSC_0141FabLabs are places where different skills and expertise meet to result in complex technical innovations Today, the sculpture is exhibited in the most appropriate place possible: In the very heart of the ARTILECT LAB Salle des Machines where it will remain. You are invited to come and see it during the Toulouse FABLAB FESTIVAL from May 5-8, 2016. WORLD TOUR

I intend to make a replica of the sculpture that could be suitable for travelling exhibitions. My idea is to have it travel to as many FabLabs as possible worldwide so each FabLab can see and sign it and have it go from one FabLab to another FabLab all the way to its final resting place: the MIT.


This would reflect the role and capacity of the FabLabs to communicate and create together and more importantly to thank Neil GERSHENFELD for his work and for what he has made possible by inventing the concept behind these one-of-a-kind places. FabLabs are not just a fashion thing, they are here to stay and help change the world. A Kickstarter campaign will be launched in the coming days to raise funds for the second sculpture and its travels with the support of the FabLabs the world over.

Gilles AZZARO is one of the founding members of the Toulouse FabLab (France’s first FabLab inaugurated in 2009).

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