Two artists from British Columbia and Ontario are recipients of the first grants from a fund dedicated towards promoting innovative work through 3D printing technology.

Vancouver-based Geoffrey Farmer and Duane Linklater of Moose Cree First Nation in northern Ontario will be able to draw from the $100,000 Be3Dimensional Innovation Fund.

The fund is a collaboration between Ryerson University and Toronto-based 3D printing studio Think2Thing, co-founded by famed photographer Edward Burtynsky and designer David Didur.

Farmer and Linklater will have their completed projects displayed at the Ryerson Image Centre and the National Gallery of Canada.

'Exciting opportunity'

Linklater has had his work exhibited and screened at home and abroad at venues including the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Power Plant in Toronto and the Family Business Gallery in New York.

The University of Alberta graduate said he sees an "exciting opportunity" to experiment with 3D technology, particularly for museums. He witnessed such partnerships firsthand while at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts last year where he was exposed to the possibilities provided through 3D tech involving a collection of native American objects.

"I was interested in unauthored art objects, more specifically, those objects that don't have an attributed artist to their name," said the North Bay, Ont.-based artist.

"I thought that this is an interesting problem to work with. For me, it's reflected what happens with native American objects when they enter into predominately European modern and contemporary museums — that they often lose information when they've been acquired.

"I was looking for a particular way of making these objects, copying these objects as part of creating an analogous object to speak to that loss," Linklater added.

"As a result, the final sculptures that were presented, of course, are representative of all of this lost information, missed translations. For me, that was a really important project to do."

Prepping for 2017 Venice Biennale

Farmer has had his works shown in several solo and group exhibitions over his 20-year career, including the Louvre in Paris, the Tate Modern in London and the National Gallery of Canada.

The 48-year-old is preparing to represent Canada on the world stage at the 57th International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, next year, where he plans to integrate 3D technology in creating his work for the project.

"As an artist, I'm still trying to understand what it means, and I think it will take us time to understand how it's going to change our world. But we definitely know it's changing it," said Farmer.

"We've always been making reproductions of things in the world, so these things aren't necessarily new. But in the way the technology is able to do it now is different. I'm able to go out into the world and if I see something, I can scan it and bring it back into the studio and work with it within the studio."

Farmer said the award comes at the "perfect time" in allowing him to use a new methodology linked to something familiar — using photography as his source material.

"I feel like there's this link or this bridge that's created with this new technology to further explore those interests that were already there."