Sculpture and Computers

By O'Connell, Kenneth R. | School Arts, February 1995 | Go to article overview

Sculpture and Computers


O'Connell, Kenneth R., School Arts


The 15th International Sculpture Conference, held in San Francisco this past summer, included a number of workshops and panel presentations on the use of computers and sculpture. Artists showed how computers are being used to develop and explore sculptural ideas. Once a sculpture model has been developed on the computer, the artist can examine how it would look from different views, with different materials, lighting and in various settings. Computers are also being used to develop templates for the actual construction of the sculpture.

Composing a Sculpture

Bruce Beasley, of Oakland, California, talked about sculpture and the computer.

"I began using computers when I found myself fascinated by a new imagery involving complex intersections of simple geometric forms... I was determined to find a way to make this imagery spontaneous and simple to work with....I find that [on the computer] I am able to work fully in-the-round even better than previously, because making a change is so easy that there is less tendency to compose the piece from one primary view....I have the spontaneity of a drawing, with the reality and multiplicity of a three-dimensional model," said Beasley.

Beasley used plotter drawings from the computer to finally realize his sculpture in either cast bronze or fabricated welded sheets of bronze plates. But the computer also played a valuable role in the early creation of the work.

Experiencing with Design Possibilities

"Others may find it difficult to believe, but for me, both emotionally and functionally, the model on the computer is fully a three-dimensional object...a change that might take several days of cutting and fitting cardboard, or even weeks if it were in metal, can be done in a few minutes on the computer."

"Fabrication is one of many years where computers can be of use to sculptors. Computers can produce full-size flat patterns as well as dimensional drawings form complex computer-generated solid models. …

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