3D Additivist Cookbook

Cookbooks tend to be written in the present tense and can thus become historical documents of social traditions. The 3D Additivist Cookbook is a reference to the utilization of a current technological medium for social and political response and an insight to networked cultural production. The content of the cookbook is formed from participants’ recipes, toolkits, theoretical writings and potential objects. Being published within the cookbook genre situates this text among a diversity of tastes, ranging from artists to writers who view the 3D printer beyond its ability to produce standard objects.

Production from a 3D printer is categorized as an ingredient in the 3D Additivist Cookbook. The basis of the cookbook is to begin a dialog about the material politics of the 3D additive manufacturing process, but the contents of the cookbook mix these plastic layers with contemporary political and social projects.

The cookbook is published as a downloadable 3D PDF document, a current medium of our time. This format allows 3D printable files to be embedded in the actual pages of the PDF, simultaneously enableing the distribution of the 3D printable files. The publisher of the cookbook, Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, is focused on the transdisciplinary nature of new media, do-it-yourself (DIY) culture, and open source elements. The PDF format of the book paired with the Creative Commons license invites the free distribution and expansion of knowledge from this digital publication.

Cover of The 3D Additivist Cookbook
Cover of The 3D Additivist Cookbook

To follow a recipe to its final outcome poses a variety of action and step-oriented processes. This is how the cookbook’s creators and editors, Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke, relate the manufacturing of other realities from the contents of the cookbook. A few of these behaviors are making, learning and sharing. These actions, which spring from the process of following a recipe, have the possibility to transform something on a small scale (such as a situation) or on a large scale (such as the world). The example I chose to examine from the 3D Additivist Cookbook documents the physical and virtual effects of an intervention-based project.

Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles’ intervention of a Berlin-based museum is entitled NefertitiHack. The artistic intervention is questioning the ownership and possession of material objects from other cultures. The Egyptian Nefertiti Bust can be associated with material culture theories and colonialist museum methods of acquiring objects, but in the case of this artwork, the scanning process that was used for the 3D printer facilitated the reassessment of the original sculptural object by activating it in the virtual space.

The original Nefertiti Bust was allegedly scanned on the premises of the museum using a hand-held digital device. The data to replicate the sculptural bust was released into the public domain. The public accessibility to this 3D printable file offers a blueprint for many forms of manipulation or the creation of multiples.

The process for this project does not end with an option of printing an object, nor does it linger in the virtual realm. In the cookbook, the NefertitiHack project includes documentation in the form of news media headlines from the final effects of the public release of the data. Since it is stated that the museum’s original Nefertiti Bust was scanned, this digital artistic intervention continues a political and social debate about cultural and intellectual property rights.

Screenshot of Nefertithack Cookbook Page with News Media Headlines
Screenshot of Nefertithack Cookbook Page with News Media Headlines from The 3D Additivist Cookbook

This chosen example is but a sliver of the broad networked cultural production that is included in the 3D Additivist Cookbook. To loosely define networked culture, digital technology is used to maintain everyday communication with a group of individuals who share similar interests. Social media sites, such as Facebook, contributed to the growth of the networked culture of Additivists. Digital technologies offer the capabilities of linked global communication that bring these Additivist participants together, but the cookbook genre represents this specific network’s production.

Historically, a community-based cookbook referenced primary sources of ingredients and methods to carry out a recipe that would document the tastes of a particular region. A networked culture extends the concept of community through the possibilities of digital culture and the immaterial production of information. The cookbook format is used as an organizational tool to present this specific time-period (today) and individual artists’ concepts regarding the oddities of 3D print production.

The process of a recipe can be altered either by the maker’s taste or the lack of an ingredient. For this cookbook, however, the change of recipe is desired and the contents have the capabilities of evolving at an even faster rate. Because networked culture helped form the content, it will also continue this trajectory of mutation. It is not easily determined if the mutation will lead to less 3D print production or to more participatory social projects. The 3D Additivist Cookbook has begun to document the work of those who have actively pursued the expanded scope of this new medium.



The 3D Additivist Cookbook [Internet], Available from: http://additivism.org/cookbook [Accessed December 5, 2016].

Institute of Network Culture (INC) [Internet], Amsterdam, Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Available from: http://networkcultures.org/about/ [Accessed December 16, 2016].

Varnelis, K. The Immediated Now: Network Culture and the Poetics of Reality [Internet], networked a (networked_book about (networked_art). Available from: http://varnelis.networkedbook.org/the-immediated-now-network-culture-and-the-poetics-of-reality/ [Accessed December 26, 2016].

Varnelis, K. (2010) The meaning of network culture (1) [Internet], openDemocracy. Available from: https://www.opendemocracy.net/kazys-varnelis/meaning-of-network-culture-1 [Accessed December 26, 2016].

Wessell, Adele. Cookbooks for Making History: As Sources for Historians and as Records of the Past. M/C Journal, [S.l.], v. 16, n. 3, aug. 2013. ISSN 14412616. Available at: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/717 [Accessed December 26, 2016].


By: Carrie Ida Edinger

Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.