2015 February SXSWorld


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1 2 S X S W o r l d | F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M t sounds like the plot of a bad science fiction movie: Guns can be printed freely around the globe for as little as $25. Any madman can easily download a set of blueprints, attach a few parts and build a weapon in the privacy of his or her bedroom. But this isn't fiction. Instead, it is the reality facing the advocates of open source design. At a time when the global society is still reeling from the latest wave of terror attacks in Paris and Nigeria, this new technology presents a distinct ethical conundrum for the design and tech communities. While it is one thing to support the open data and open source movements, it is a very different position to entirely advocate for those who want to print off their own firearms. With its disruptive potential and the tension between open source and the common good, the advent of the 3-D printed gun highlights the speed at which open source design is evolving. These are the themes that the Museum of Modern Art's Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, Paola Antonelli, will explore in her keynote speech at SXSW Interactive 2015. A key figure in the open source design movement, Antonelli hit the headlines in October 2013 with her online exhibition entitled "Design and Violence," which featured the first 3-D gun (the crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson's World War II-inspired "Liberator") and challenged the accepted notion that the job of design is to produce aesthetically pleasing solutions to everyday problems. Antonelli's boundary-pushing project is housed in a simple, user-friendly website and features a wide array of objects with commentary on them from leading authors and academics such as Steven Pinker, William Gibson and Anne-Marie Slaughter. As well as the 3-D gun, the archive includes a Beetle Wrestlerm dash—an interactive device that allows humans to "better understand the heightened state of combat in the insect world," a fiendish re-imaging of a stiletto heel, and the plastic handcuffs used by police to restrain suspects. "The whole project was sparked by the 3-D printed gun," says Antonelli. "When I first heard about it, my jaw dropped. Naively, I always thought that anything that is open source would make the world a better place." This eureka moment has clearly had an impact on Antonelli, although she is still an advocate of the transformative power of open source design. Her preferred example of the beneficial side is the emblematic EyeWriter project, which MoMA acquired more than three years ago. The work of a group of hackers and artists, it was conceived to help the paralyzed Los Angeles graffiti artist Tony Quan, a.k.a. Tempt One, make art with his eyes while in the hospital. This creative contraption, which costs around $50 (compared to commercial eye-trackers, which are around $10,000-$15,000), uses cheap glasses, a computer camera and open source software that har- nesses eyeball movements for writing and drawing. In 2009, Quan was able to tag buildings in downtown Los Angeles for the first time in seven years. His designs were first transmitted to a team of art- ists in L.A., who then projected them in real-time onto a 10-story building. Tempt One was back. "The EyeWriter project gets to people's hearts," says Antonelli. "If you start telling people that open source design started in the coding community, it sounds too abstract, but if you use the EyeWriter as an example, people understand that it's about prototyping a new solution for one person that can become available to everybody for as little money as possible. It is also open for everybody to make improvements. I explain it as something that opens up a community and har- nesses everyone's power to make things better for the common good. It's a beau- tiful paradigm based on trust and generosity." Over the past decade, there has been both a decrease in cost and an increase in innovation in 3-D printing. The idea of an open source, self-replicating printer was first conceived in 2004 by Dr. Adrian Bow yer, a senior lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath, in England. However, it took until 2007 for what is now known as the RepRap (Replicating Rapid Prototyper) phenomenon to emerge. Then in January Design and Tech Communities Confront Ethical Conundrum by Serena KutchinSKy I Th e Ey eWrite r T H E E Y E W R I T E R T E A M / M O M A

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