The first project that employs 3D printing technology, Print On Demand, led the translation of the “ready-made” into its digital counterparts in the 21st Century and examined the process of a mere thing becoming an artwork. The project’s name is a pun on the name of German artist and photographer Thomas Demand, who successfully translates photography into sculpture and vice versa. Demand meticulously creates cardboard models of real spaces, photographs them and then destroys the models, leaving a photograph behind which, through a careful choice of scale and framing, inherits the ambiguity of space as “real” and “not-real”. Instead of producing laborious paper sculptures, the pictorial space in Print On Demand is entirely constructed from 3D prints of everyday objects, found in diverse online communities, which are *made ready to be printed on demand. One of the largest online exchanges for ready-to-print 3D models is Thingiverse.
This process enables the creation of simulacral spaces, like those of Demand, but without a painstaking sculpting process. None of the models were either designed or printed by the author. While in Demand’s photos, the simulacrum is created through the ambiguity between the original and the copy, in *Print On Demand* resulting objects and photos convey the notion of a simulacral copy, a copy without the original. This simulacral quality is achieved through the choice of 3D models (similar to Duchamp’s ready-made), which, when printed in 3D, exhibit different transformations despite going through the same process.