Publications

Bin Dixon-Ward has a deep admiration for functional design and human ingenuity. She experiences this in the city landscape of buildings but also in the details – geometric forms, the arc of a window or doorway, surface textures or the line of power cables across the sky. The city is a rich source of inspiration for her, with its evidence of pragmatic yet sensitive solutions to urban living. Dixon-Ward sees the city as a tool we use in our daily life. For her, the forms, patterns and structures of the city signify the evolution of humankind, “the city is the physical embodiment of our culture”[1].

 

It seems a natural progression, then, that her own thirst for knowledge and interest in new technologies led her to the exploration of 3D drawing and printing in her work. All makers seek to find the tool and/or process which offer the greatest freedom and honesty of expression for a particular concept. Dixon-Ward views 3D drawing software and printing machinery as tools like any other.

 

The creation of all handmade objects involves a tool of some kind, whether a hammer, machine or simply the hands themselves. However, there is a tendency to feel that machines eliminate the human side of making, as they are seen to remove the hand of the maker from the work and thus making them less valuable. Indeed, issues of the impact of technology on art have been with us since the Industrial Revolution. In spite of this, the development of technology, digital or otherwise, has opened up a world of opportunity to makers over the years and will no doubt continue to do so. The introduction of the use of blanking dies with the hydraulic press, for example, allowed makers to swiftly and easily cut the same shape from sheet metal, as opposed to painstakingly hand sawing each individual piece.  As such, Dixon-Ward rejects the idea that the use of technology removes the hand of the artist. After all, her pieces are products of her mind and hand, the software and machinery simply equipment used in the process. Moreover, she views 3D printing as a sign of the age we live in, a cultural artefact of today, much the way an Art Deco building signifies the values and progress of the early 20th century.

 

Dixon-Ward’s interest in the relationships between maker and machine and humans and the constructed environments of the city are explored in both her process of making and the objects themselves. In isolating and downsizing the forms of buildings they are made human scale, approachable. By duplicating, layering and distorting these forms, the objects are abstracted from their origin, allowing the wearer or viewer the freedom to impart their own interpretation, while remaining true to their source.

 

Dixon-Ward’s work is also informed by its own functionality. It is important to her that the objects be wearable, and comfortably so. Although some pieces are relatively large, the material used is lightweight, making them easy to wear. Like a well-designed building, Dixon-Ward’s pieces are practical and uncomplicated and do not detract from their role as functional yet personal objects.

 

 

 

Chloë Powell, April 2012.



[1] Bin Dixon-Ward, Honours Thesis, 2011.