Jonathan Monaghan Melds Technology and Art [INTERVIEW]

October 12, 2012

9:00 am

Jonathan Monaghan will be a panelist at DCWEEK for “Art in the Digital Age.” He is a 3D animator and was an artist-in-residence at MakerBot, a 3D printing startup in New York. DCWEEK is a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.

Tech Cocktail: Tell us about your work with MakerBot.

Jonathan Monaghan: While I was there, I got to work on a number of really fascinating projects, like creating digital portraits of people using a 3D scanner, then printing out little plastics busts. I got to scan a bunch of really amazing people, like Stephen Colbert, but also got to test out a brand new process of capturing and replicating the world around us. We put all of these virtual portraits online for anyone to download. I also did things like launch 3D printed objects into outer space and designed a holiday window display for the New Museum.

Tech Cocktail: What inspires your work? 

Monaghan: The techniques I use to create my computer animations allow for anything you can dream up to happen on screen. I am always trying to push the envelope to go beyond what you see made with the same software on television and Hollywood films.  I like to look at as much art, both contemporary and historical, as I can to feed my imagination.

Tech Cocktail: How is technology changing the way art is made? 

Monaghan: In 2008, I helped a number of sculptors who work in stone to create their designs with 3D software. We then 3D printed out small-scale versions of the sculptures, which were sent to stone carvers in China. By designing it in virtual space, the sculptors were able to achieve results that simply could not be conceived of any other way. The exhibition traveled around China and the works became some of the first Western art to be acquired by China’s national collection. And that’s just in sculpture; artists are becoming more proficient in all areas of computer graphics and the results are truly exciting.

Tech Cocktail: How is technology affecting the consumption of art? 

Monaghan: I think the web really personalizes the consumption of art. Art appreciators can better seek out their tastes and interests, and interact more directly with their arts communities.

Tech Cocktail: What are you most looking forward to at DCWEEK? 

Monaghan: Seeing and meeting the individuals who are driving technology innovation in the DC area and beyond.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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