Designer and artist Filippo Nassetti has been featured on these pages several times, as he and studio MHOX were among the very first to show the utilization of 3D printing in artistic and futuristic product concepts and artworks. In his latest work, the Postnatural Head, Nassetti uses 3D printing to explore the human head as a “geological entity of hard material that is eroded by forces over eons”.
At a conceptual level, Nassetti’s pieces can be understood as forms of co-evolution of the human body and technology, postnatural synthesis of natural and artificial elements, radical new identities. Each design is based on a specific relation between formation and body – ranging from symbiosis, prosthetic augmentation, protection, to parasitic dependence, and deconstruction.
The Postnatural Head is an artifact that supports a question of identity, a transformative operation on the human figure. The project is part of wider research on synthetic erosion, which started with the observation of rock formations, their visual richness and poetics, found in different locations around the globe – the red deserts of Jordan, mangrove coastlines in the Philippines, the dramatic cliffs of Wales, the Italian Alps.
“I am intrigued by how wind, water, heat shape the hard material, creating formal articulation by deconstructing a solid substrate, which progressively incorporates information, traces of these forces,” Nassetti explains to 3dpbm. “A very sculptural principle, although there is not a pre-existing idea of what will be carved out of that initial block of material, nor a perfect figure waiting to be unveiled, just forces at play, blind to the outcome of their production. Together with such forces, it is almost as if another unseen [force], time itself, became visible, through highly complex, ever-changing patterns of deconstruction and decay.”
The Postnatural Head was conceived around the idea of eroding the human figure: the body as a geological entity of hard material, rather than flesh and blood. In the artwork, Nassetti transfers the visual space of natural erosion to the human body, while encoding the erosive process as a synthetic, digital operation.
“I wanted the piece to be an aesthetic statement which is general, unbound from the biographic specificity of individuals.” Nassetti continues: “The face is then featureless, to recall a general human figure, independent from a specific gender, age, character, or ethnic connotation.”
The formation is composed by approximately forty thousand unique elements. Their section is the same, while length and displacement change according to a complex pattern, whose perception changes extensively with the angle and perspective of the observer.
“I believe this artifact poses questions regarding the relation between ideas such as natural and artificial, digital and material, whether their traditional distinction and opposition are still valid, and how their reformulation becomes operational in constructing new human identities,” Nassetti concludes.