Jenny Filipetti, after graduating from Brown University with a degree in Art-Semiotics, is studying for her MFA in Emergent Digital Practices at the University of Denver in Colorado. She states that she seeks to understand systems we live among and how these affect us. Her search for patterns runs alongside her love of machines, yearning for humanity to “sing alongside the voices of compressors and air pumps.”
All her threads weave together for her recent work Breath Vessels, computer-and-3D-printer-aided ceramics which trap a single breath in time. Her machines cast a present and real representation of something you do up to 20,000 times a day, creating a new experience around this simple activity. She states of the concept:
“An exhalation. Embodied air, full of the waste of the human body as it churns air and environment into sustenance. Replete with meaning: the long exasperated sigh, the frail choked breath, the sound of a body relaxing. In Hebrew the word רוח can be translated as breath, wind, or spirit. The English word “spirit” comes from the Latin “spiritus” (breath). Yet we rarely think about our own breathing unless it is endangered.”
An article on 3DPrint describes her process. Someone raises a handheld shell-like form to their lips and they breathe into it. This creates a shape of that breath on a computer program, the volume and speed of the breath determines the vessel’s width and shape. This form can be rendered on a 3D printer (which is based on artist Jonathan Keep’s design. You can read more about him in this issue). The artist states that the project also used Karsten Schmidt’s Toxiclibs library.
“Breath Vessels draws attention to the very physical nature of this life-sustaining ritual (breathing). Just as immaterial words can have tangible effects in the world, our breath is deeply tied to both our biological and emotional life, and thus it too has real effects on ourselves and our world.”
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