Near Net Shape is an artwork which makes the presence of software in the heavy machinery of ports and shipyards visible. While software has been used in the operation of heavy machinery for many decades, its importance increases with the push towards automation and data-driven processes. The presence of familiar machines in the port such as gantry cranes and shipping containers implies work as usual, making digitisation difficult to sense.
Near Net Shape consists of steel sculptural objects designed to cast a shadow of a Central Processing Unit (CPU) – the electronic circuitry instrumental to executing the instructions of a computer program. When these sculptures are hung onto large vehicles and heavy machinery, they create new shadows, indicating the presence of operating software within. This artwork has been fabricated in steel, a dominant material in ports, using wire arc additive manufacturing, a new 3D print technique. The artwork as a whole consists of the sculpture, the setting and machinery of the port, and the new shadows cast.