Of all the application 3D printing has, there is none kinder than that of providing a printed shelter. Particularly if the residents are 6-legged crustaceans with soft, spirally abdomens. All species of hermit crabs move to a larger home as they grow, most commonly using shells, but also known to commandeer broken bottles or hollow pieces of wood and stone. So why not give them something a bit more custom? Something that matches your urban decor? A city skyline perhaps? Aki Inomata has done just that, giving the wee invertebrates a snazzy new abode and exhibiting here hermit homes in various Tokyo galleries over the past several years.
Fortunately for the hermit crab, their tiny bodies make these small sheds of 3D printed ingenuity possible. The idea was formed around the shifting of land ownership in her native Japan.
I overheard that the land of the former French Embassy in Japan had been French until October 2009; that it was to become Japanese for the following fifty years, and then be returned to France. This concept made me think of hermit crabs, which change their shells.
Aki took a CT Scan of an abandoned shell, importing it to her 3D modeling software and adding influences of cityscape architecture and stylish houses.
The hermit crabs wearing the shelters I built for them, which imitate the architecture of various countries, appeared to be crossing various national borders. Though the body of the hermit crab is the same, according to the shell it is wearing, its appearance changes completely. It’s as if they were asking, “Who are you?”
“Who are you?” I am a crab with a beautiful, new transparent shell–That’s who I am. You can see more of Aki’s 3D printed creations on her website. Follow and receive news of her exhibitions on Twitter @a_inomata.