Web Spaces (2016)

Jip de Beer
Sponsor: V2_Lab, Host: Kitchen Budapest

How can three dimensional beings, like you and me, explore the virtual landscape of web pages? By rendering the building blocks of a web page in three dimensions, the architecture beneath its surface is revealed.

During the Summer Sessions 2016 residency, Jip de Beer has brought his investigation to the next level: taking web pages beyond the screen with 3D printing.

‘Web Spaces: 3D Printed Web Pages’ materializes the underlying structure of some very familiar web pages, namely home pages of the top 10 most valuable domains (i.e. Facebook.comTwitter.com and Google.com). The value of these Web Spaces is reflected in the material choice and price of each 3D print. And even though the digital precision of 3D printing suits the nature of Web Spaces perfectly, 100% accurate 3D models won’t always survive the transition into the physical world.

During the Summer Sessions 2016 residency, Jip set out to discover a universal solution to automatically 3D print, or otherwise materialize, web pages. While an approach of ‘fully automated’ worked great in his previous project, ‘Rapping.Reviews – Computer-generated Rap Battles about Movies and TV Series’, it doesn’t apply to 3D printing web pages. Sure, some pages are straightforward to print, but others have a much more troublesome design, which doesn’t keep real world physics in mind. This means that before any page can be printed, the artist himself needs to be involved.

In the end, Jip optimized his workflow. He generated Web Spaces with a custom built program, trying out different parameters, until he was satisfied. If necessary, he modified the Web Space slightly while trying to maintain the integrity of the overall structure. Usually this involves thickening parts which would otherwise break or inserting a support pillar underneath overhanging elements. The end result is a physical object inspired by the architecture of a web page.

As a final part of the workflow optimization, the actual 3D printing has been outsourced to Shapeways. This way ‘Web Spaces: 3D Printed Web Pages’ enjoys a wide variety of material options (including platinum and gold), delivers and accepts payments worldwide, while at the same time allowing the artist to do what he does best: realizing his ideas.

The Top 10 Web Spaces are available for sale in Jip’s shop at Shapeways. For more information please visit the blog of Jip de Beer.

This project was developed during a residency as part of a Summer Sessions residency at V2_.