If you want to make a three-dimensional plaster bust using a state-of-the-art printer, turn recycled materials into art, print a hand-made book or have a computer draw a portrait on paper, Florida StateUniversity’s new Facility forArts Research (FAR) is the place to go.“It’s a one-of-a-kind facility in the country and probably the world,” FSU College of Fine Arts Dean Sally McRorie said during opening ceremonies for FAR on Thursday afternoon.“We don’t know what’s going to come out of it — and that is a wonderful thing.”“The objective is to take our art and design program to the next level,” FSU President Eric Barron said. “I think it’s a wonderful idea and a sign that the arts at FSU are powerful and strong. If you want to study the arts, FSU is the place to go. I can’t wait to see what starts coming out of this building.”In keeping with the building’s high-tech mission, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by a computer-driven laser beam and the cutting was projected on a computer screen. No human hands were involved in the act.
“Everyone knows I struggle with scissors,” Barron joked as he looked on. FAR is housed a 22,500-square-foot former cancer-research facility and Taxol laboratory just north of Interstate 10 off North Monroe Street. Its mission is to create an interdisciplinary environment where college and faculty engineers collaborate with visual artists, poets work with printers or musicians dream up projects with technicians. “Artists can program (chip-sized) computers to make art, to use as robotics, to make their art interactive, whatever they want,” FAR creative director Chad Eby said during a tour of the building. “They can integrate electronics into nearly everything. The idea is simple but the technology is high.” Eby also explained how the ZPrinter 450 used a computer program and wet plaster — applied one thin level at a time over and over — to make a tiny bust of FSU vice president of research Kirby Kemper, who was instrumental in creating FAR. The bust took eight hours from inception to completion. “Right now (the printer) is in its infancy, at a hobby level,” Eby said. “It’s where Steve Jobs and the desktop computers were in the ’70s when he was in a garage in California. Who knows where it will be in just a few years. China is terrified of this because it will revolutionize manufacturing.” Barron pulled Eby aside and quizzed him about the possibility of using a musical score to make a 3-D image. “What would it look like if you take a symphony and put it into a 3-D image?” Barron said. “I’d love to see that.” “I don’t know where all of this is going to end up,” Kemper said, “but it’s a helluva beginning.”