Readymake: Duchamp Chess Set is a 3D-printed chess set generated from an archival photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s own custom and hand-carved game. His original physical set no longer exists. We have resurrected the lost artifact by digitally recreating it, and then making the 3D files available for anyone to print.
Inspired by Marcel Duchamp's readymade — an ordinary manufactured object that the artist selected and modified for exhibition — the readymake brings the concept of the appropriated object to the realm of the internet, exploring the web’s potential to re-frame information and data, and their reciprocal relationships to matter and ideas. Readymakes transform photographs of objects lost in time into shared 3D digital spaces to provide new forms and meanings.
While 3D digital models are a relatively new commodity, the possibilities for digital fabrication have been rapidly proliferating. Digital relics in the form of images and archival photographs are abundant, and offer a means to rework the value of the art object, making them a perfect starting point for this experiment.
Most importantly, a readymake does not exist solely as a virtual object. Every readymake that is downloaded and produced will see subtle inconsistencies in computer numerical controlled manufacturing – along with the varying 3D printing technologies, variants of specific printer designs, and unique combinations of software and hardware commonly used in ubiquitous DIY digital fabrication systems - always yielding unique results.
Duchamp said in the 1960s, about his readymade creations, "I'm not at all sure that the concept of the readymade isn't the most important single idea to come out of my work." Today, in an age of digital fabrication and open source design, the boundaries between concept and object continue to blur. We invite other thinkers and makers to join our exploration of conceptual-material formations — to discover and create with our readymakes, and contribute their own.
3D-prints, recreated from Marcel Duchamp's original chess set
These are printed in Vero-based resin on Objet 3D printers.
A photograph of Duchamp's original hard-carved chess set
This chess set has been lost in time and only exists as a photograph
Closeup of the rook
Notice the subtle inconsistencies due to computer-controlled manufacturing processes.