Trying to describe being an artist at Duke isn't a very good task with my kind of judgement, since I'm pretty separated from people and any kind of "art scene" there may be on campus. I couldn't have reached this stage of isolation comparable to living on a mountaintop without my choice of major (biomedical engineering), so I owe that painful load of classes a deeply insincere thanks. From what I have seen, though, is that there are plenty of resources to take advantage of. I'm very fond of the 3D printing service free to all students, since I use it heavily to make little dolls for posing and lighting purposes. That was the initial reason, but it became fun to print out little sculptures for my room, and now I have a desk full of them. If only there was more time to use things like the Art Annex’s free clay, or the recently arranged figure-drawing sessions, I could be a lot more content with myself. Anyway. If there was a problem with the atmosphere around Duke, I’d have to blame it on the general student body. There are artists whose work I’ve seen and liked in the art classes I’ve been in and seeing them wanting to advance their skills has been fun. The most striking part of those people is the commitment to make something new, or commitment to knowing everything about other artists and their body of work. Not being able to relax and spit out a piece is lots of fun when there’s quality in the rest of the class to worry about. The problem is, most people don’t try to be committed like that. The live figure drawing sessions mentioned previously weren’t something naturally given to students, because those students weren’t asking for funding, or classes, or anything to practice those skills. But I won’t criticize artists for not wanting to learn these things or trying to get their hands on more resources, because I don’t know most of what goes on, and don’t expect people to change things easily. What I can say, though, pertains to using 3D printing for engineering and sculpture purposes. Most of the 3D printing resources get wasted on making downloaded items like the sweaty blot on humanity known as Pickle Rick, or the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, or some other useless pop culture item. One of the most notorious wastes of plastic is a certain model of a human brain, and it will bear my hatred forever. Do you know why the human brain can store so much information? It has a large surface area from all its wrinkles. That translates into a waste of basically all a printer’s plastic filament, a precious roll worth 30 dollars and usually able to last a week of printing, and I despise having to see so many people draining a public resource with unoriginal things. Meanwhile, I’m constantly updating my figures, like adjusting the length of its thumbs, making better shoulder blades, adding more joints for the spine, trying to get parts to overlap when bending the stomach so as to imply muscles and slight folds, and so on. And not one of the people I share resources with was willing to put in a few hours of their life to learn how to 3D model, because their “passion” is only skin deep, and only extends to a lazy bystander-like love for whatever flavor of the month show they think is shocking. I hope the rest of the artists at Duke aren’t that type of person, or stooping to appeal to those people, and thankfully, I haven't seen anything like that yet.
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