OffBeat

3D printed guns are officially art — at least according to one London museum

3d-printed-gun2
Image Credit: Defense Distributed

3D printed guns: dangerous, controversial, and now, apparently art.

London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has acquired a pair of original prototypes of the Liberator, the 3D-printed gun developed by Cody Wilson and his libertarian activist group Defense Distributed.

According to the museum, the guns are meant to “enhance its collection of 3D printed objects and represent a turning point in debates around digital manufacturing.”

Or, as V&A senior curator Kieran Long puts it: “Ugly and sinister objects demand the museum’s attention just as much as beautiful and beneficial ones do.”

Cody Wilson, who can perhaps best be described as a “principled troublemaker,” is proud of the development. “I don’t see it as an art project, but it has an artistic sensibility about it. It’s a kind of demonstration, proof of the direction of our technical future,” he told Forbes’s Andy Greenberg.

What’s funny here is that, if the Victoria and Albert Museum really wanted to be clever, it could have printed its own Liberators instead of buying them. The goal here, though, was authenticity: By acquiring actual, tested Liberators (one of which has its right side blown off from testing),  the museum now owns a controversial but important part of history. And that’s something that no 3D printer can replicate.