Ultimaker and Dance

When talented choreographer, James Batchelor first approached XYZ Workshop about a year ago with the idea of a collaboration whereby 3D printed props/costume would form part of the storytelling dance process, the seed was planted for an intriguing journey. XYZ Workshop  having had past work featured further ashore in the U.S., Singapore, Russia and UK, having an chance to work with some local talent and having it staged at a performance space right in Melbourne city seemed like a perfect opportunity.

The conceptual idea for the latest piece of the Metasystems series stems from an interplay of observations of constructions sites around the world. This piece is an extension of James’ previous exploration of how dance can utilize the regularity of building blocks to evoke the monotonous rigor associated with the actual movement during the building process.


For the new endeavor, we discussed the departure from regularity. Given the level of customization afforded by the additive manufacturing process, James had the vision of creating each element as a unique piece that would then be assembled to form the volume that reflected his previous “systems”.

The 3D Printed blocks provided a striking contrast to the rough sawn, slightly imperfect concrete blocks.

Imaginables, who are distributers for Ultimaker in Australia, assisted XYZ Workshop with their Ultimaker Original 3D Printers and customized the nozzle to allow for a non-standard 0.8mm nozzle. The larger nozzle allowed XYZ Workshop to print at a faster rate of flow inorder to print 75kg of Grey PLA filament used to produce the 128 pieces for the performance. It took approximately 800 hours of printing spread across two 3D Printers to realize the vision.


Choreographer: James Batchelor
Visual Artist: Madeline Beckett
Performers: James Batchelor, Madeline Beckett
3D printing design and construction: XYZ Workshop
3D Printers : Ultimaker / Imaginables

Below is a review by Jordan Beth Vincent from The AGE

“Choreographer James Batchelor takes inspiration from construction sites from around the world in his latest work, Metasystems.

The work begins with Batchelor surrounded by 3Dprinted objects. Each is smooth on the outside, but honeycombed on the inside; seemingly irregular and unique. Looming in the background is a tower of bricks, disciplined in rows but individually pockmarked and imperfect. It soon becomes apparent that the 3Dprinted objects slot into position like a jigsaw and stack to create a tower that mirrors the one made of bricks. From the outside, this new cube is the same in size and shape as its neighbour, but it is fundamentally different within.

This play between similarities and differences also comes through in Batchelor’s choreography. In the first section, he seems oblivious to the construction happening around him, as he transposes sweeping movements from a prone to a standing position, eliciting different physical responses and possibilities Later, performers Emma Batchelor and Madeline

Beckett deconstruct the brick tower, creating precise, almost pixelated, designs on the floor for Batchelor and dancer Amber McCartney to move amongst. The sounds of bricks slamming on the floor become a percussive backdrop. It is almost excruciating to watch so many cycles of construction and deconstruction, perhaps because it brings to
the fore the element of human labour required to manually create each one. At the end, humans and bricks are debris in the shadow of the new tower, an indication of the new industrial revolution that 3D printing might facilitate.

This final tableau mirrors the opening one, bringing Metasystems full circle.Dramatically, Metasystems is not quite satisfying, but this is a very intelligent conceptual production.”.



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