Making sculptural masterpieces accessible to all by 3D scanning and publishing their 3D printable files into the digital commons
My name is Cosmo Wenman, and for the last year I've been 3D scanning artwork in museums and using those scans to 3D print life-size reproductions. I've been sharing my 3D printable files online so that anyone can 3D print their own copies too. You can see some of my work here: cosmowenman.com It's been a labor of love for me. I've been doing it for myself, for other art lovers, and for students and educators--for anyone who's dreamed of owning fine sculptural art, but hasn't had the means until now.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a home filled with books of illustrations and prints which formed the basis for my own appreciation for the beauty, themes, and meaning in art. If you were lucky in the same way, and know how important that is, you'll want to know what's on the horizon.
Recent advances in 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies are opening up new opportunities for the average person to possess and enjoy beautiful sculptural artwork of their own. The children growing up today and tomorrow with 3D printers in their homes and classrooms are on the verge of becoming the very first generation to have an aesthetic sensibility informed by direct, hands-on access to the world's sculptural masterworks. Their cultural landscape and visual vocabulary will be richer, more complex, and more varied than ours. Sculpture and artifacts will be able to speak to them in ways that have never before been possible.
Eventually, 3D printable designs of the entire world's cultural heritage of sculptural masterworks will be available to everyone, and this project is my attempt to make that happen sooner rather than later.
Up until now I've been doing my scanning work solo, just walking into museums and scanning what was accessible. But now I've found an institution that shares my goal of freely disseminating art using every available tool.
The Skulpturhalle Basel museum in Switzerland has an incredible collection of more than 2,000 high quality 19th and 20th century plaster casts of important ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. The Skulpturhalle has given me permission to 3D scan sculptures of my choosing, and to share the 3D designs without any restrictions.
This is a tremendous opportunity to bring great art into people's lives.
I will 3D scan a selection of plaster casts of important, archetypal sculptures at the Skulpturhalle and publish the scans and 3D printable files into the public domain, copyright-free, so that anyone, anywhere, can download, alter, adapt, or 3D print them for themselves.
I'll publish the 3D printable files online at Thingiverse.com, where they will be available for free, for any use, without restriction, for teachers, students, artists, art lovers--for everyone.
I will also exhibit at least one life-size bust, 3D scanned and 3D printed, from the Skulpturhalle, at the London, Paris, and New York 3D Printshows.
By backing this project, you will be publishing the very first publicly-available 3D surveys of these important works. You'll be making art history and bringing it to life.
This project will require weeks of photography and months of post-processing, 3D print-proofing, experimentation, and 3D model repair and optimization. There will be travel, materials, and some equipment expenses too. I've been successfully experimenting with this stuff for over a year. But now, to do it on this scale, I need your support.
Please consider taking part in this new, experimental form of art patronage, integrating yourself with art and art history, and helping to close the distance between great art and the people who love it.
The Skulpturhalle has been preserving high quality 19th and 20th century plaster casts of these ancient masterworks (and more):
The Skulpturhalle's plaster cast inventory (in German) is here.
Here is a brief overview of the tradition of using plaster casts to share important artwork around the world--a tradition waiting to be reborn with 3D scanning and 3D printing.
The target names listed above are links to tweets with reference photos of the original works and a link back to this page; you can help me prioritize them and spread the word by clicking on your favorites and retweeting them.
Visit the Through A Scanner Facebook page and like or share your favorites. I've included reference links and commentary here too. Please leave comments of your own--why you like them, what you would do with them. If you're a teacher, please leave a comment about how you would use a 3D printed copy in your classroom; I'll share your idea here on this Kickstarter page.
Please back this project. I can't do it without your support. Please pick a reward and level of support that works for you, and tell your friends.
"Cosmo's work truly brings 3D printing into another realm. [He] shows that the technology is much more malleable than previously envisioned and has created some of the most impressive examples of 3D replication we have ever seen." -- Bre Pettis, CEO, MakerBot Industries
My 3D prints, which I made with a low-cost, consumer-grade desktop 3D printer.
Demonstrations and proofs of concept I've done recently include 3D scanning and 3D printing adaptations of works from the British Museum, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Tate Britain, the Getty Villa, the Louvre, and the Norton Simon museum. They've been displayed at the 2012 London 3D Print Show, and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
My life-size, solid bronze adaptation of the Getty Villa's bust of Caligula was recently displayed as an example of digitization and 3D printed reproduction at a conference of museum curators at the Smithsonian.
There are millennia of beautiful physical forms that can be digitized, propagated, and remixed over and over again in perpetuity, starting now. They can become the foundation of an unlimited combinatorial explosion of adaptation and creation, and for untold new artwork and artforms in the coming years. Will the world's back catalog of 3D art show up lit in pixels on our screens, 3D printed in our homes and classrooms, or embedded in our architecture or clothing? Or in something new? Mass 3D scanning and publishing projects like this are the first steps towards finding out.
"Propaganda of the deed." -- Bruce Sterling, science fiction author and futurist
"That is badass." -- Gavin McInnes, founder, VICE
"What art love looks like. In 3D." -- J. Paul Getty Museum
By making this a popularly funded project, I hope to demonstrate public interest in museums and private art and antiquities collectors bringing their artwork alive by scanning and setting it loose into the popular culture. I believe that the first people, companies, and institutions to embrace opportunities like this and help shape an ethic of freely publishing 3D models of important works will be among the most influential art patrons of the next several hundred years. That can be you, me, and everyone we bring on board.