Author Archives: cosmowenman


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“The figure of the curvaceous naked woman was originally painted red… The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of sexual love and war, or Ishtar’s sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal who ruled over the Underworld, or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith.” —British Museum catalog

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“This torso is one of a prolific series of ancient replicas which are generally agreed to echo the Diadumenus (“he who attaches” a band around his forehead), a bronze produced c.440-430 BCE by Polyclitus. Polyclitus was fascinated by the male form and its reproduction according a system of skillful calculations that he set out in his treatise, the Canon. The Diadumenus was the fruit of this intellectual approach, which was of seminal importance in the history of Greek sculpture.” —Louvre catalog

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“In style the Esquiline Venus is an example of the Pasitelean “eclectic” Neo-Attic school, combining elements from a variety of other previous schools – a Praxitelean idea of the nude female form; a face, muscular torso, and small high breasts in the fifth-century BC severe style; and pressed-together thighs typical of Hellenistic sculptures… The statue’s subject has variously been interpreted as the Roman goddess Venus (possibly in the form Venus Anadyomene), as a nude mortal female bather, a female version of the diadumenos tying up the hair with a fillet.” —Wikipedia

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The IK Prize is presented annually by Tate for an idea that uses digital technology to innovate the way we discover, explore and enjoy British art in the Tate collection.

My rejected project proposal for the Tate IK Prize 2015:

Tell us who you are and what creative digital projects you have done in the past (150 words max).

As a freelance designer, consultant, and lifelong informal art student, for the last several years I’ve been experimenting with the 3D capture, 3D printing, remixing, and copyright-free digital publication of antiquities and fine art.

I have published online several scans of works in the Louvre and British Museum.

My recently completed project Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle produced and freely shared 3D surveys of 19th-century plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures from the Skulpturhalle, Basel museum in Switzerland.

That project published for the very first time high-quality 3D surveys of Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, and the Medusa Rondanini, among several others. These surveys have been downloaded 70,000 times in the few months since their publication, and have been 3D printed by art lovers all over the world. This bleeding-edge project received international press coverage from a diverse collection of pop culture, tech, art, and conservation-oriented media outlets.

How would you use digital technology, platforms or tools, to “connect the world to art”, creating a new way for the public to discover and enjoy British art from Tate’s collection? (150 words max).

My project, Tate Britain Unbound, will digitize and publish online, copyright-free, archival-quality 3D surveys and 3D-print-ready models of iconic, public domain sculptural artwork from Tate Britain. 3D visualizations of the works will be added to


The example shown at left is Eric Gill’s stone carving, Ecstasy, which I scanned, 3D printed, and cast in bronze.

The public can Tweet their remixed surveys to be 3D printed and displayed at Tate Britain, all broadcast via live webcams. Select remixes will be 3D printed large-scale and displayed.

Tate Britain Unbound will allow Tate Britain to experiment with projecting its collection outward, turning it into a living engine of cultural creation, to be endlessly adapted, multiplied, and remixed in unpredictable venues and media. We’ll set it loose to come alive in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture beyond the museum’s walls.

Tate Britain Unbound’s worldwide engagement with the public would begin immediately. Its effects will unfold over hundreds of years.




My replica of the 1st-century A.D. marble relief from Roman Libya, Three Dancing Nymphs, is shown above on the first day of its installation at the Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House in Hollywood, California.

The Hollyhock House was Wright’s first project in Los Angeles; it is now a museum and a candidate for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original marble relief was the most important piece in the Hollyhock House’s original owner’s art collection, and was the last major feature missing from the house’s recent restoration back to its original 1920s decor—in the photo below, the photograph in the upper right corner from the 1920s is one of the few references showing where the original was located. Now that it is on permanent display in the loggia, my replica will be the first thing to greet museum visitors.

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[Update, March 15, 2016: After my investigation was reported by multiple news outlets, including Smithsonian Magazine, Popular Science, InstapunditThe Daily Dot, Kotaku, Digital Trends, Fusion,  Gizmodo, Hyperallergic, MentalflossBoingBoing, and ARTFIXdaily, The New York Times was compelled to publish a follow-up story: Nefertiti 3-D Scanning Project in Germany Raises Doubts.]

[Update, November 13, 2019: After a three-year FOIA effort, I was able to obtain the Neues Museum’s original 3D scan of Nefertiti. That story is here.]

March 8, 2016

The New York Times’ March 1, 2016 story “Swiping a Priceless Antiquity … With a Scanner and a 3-D Printer” by Charly Wilder tells how two German artists made a surreptitious, unauthorized 3D scan of the iconic bust of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum in Berlin.

The artists, Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, make a case for repatriating artifacts to their native countries and use Nefertiti as their focal point. They also point out that the Neues Museum has made its own high-quality 3D scan of the bust, and that the museum should share that data with the public. As a protest, they released their own scan to the public, and the quality of their scan is extraordinary.

The story has received a great deal of attention and Al-badri and Nelles have earned much praise for their efforts to digitally repatriate important cultural artifacts. Unfortunately, there are serious problems with their story and The Times’ account.

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December 29, 2015

The New York Times calls the J. Paul Getty Museum’s current exhibit of 40 ancient bronzes, Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World “one of the best exhibitions of sculpture you may ever see.”

For the Los Angeles leg of its tour, the exhibit featured the life-size Seated Boxer. But when it came time for the exhibit to move to Washington, D.C., the Vatican recalled the Boxer to Rome, so it could be displayed in conjunction with 2016 Jubilee festivities.

The Getty curators filled the Boxer’s vacancy with the Dancing Faun of Pompeii, which was loaned from the Naples Archaeological Museum.

Judging from press accounts, the Faun has stolen the show. That should come as no surprise, though.

The Dancing Faun was discovered on October 26, 1830 in the ruins of the most opulent Roman home discovered at Pompeii: the House of the Faun, as it later became known, which was also home to the Alexander Mosaic. The Faun is thought to be either a 2nd-century Greek original, or a very high-quality Roman copy.

Upon its discovery, as Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny write in Taste and the Antique, “The fame of this small bronze was instantaneous … its first cataloger described it as the finest bronze to have been excavated at Pompeii and compared it to the Barberini Faun.

Its small size made it ideal for reproduction and for decorating gardens and drawing rooms. Victorians raved about the Faun, no doubt with assurances like that from the Naples museum, which advised that “the Faun was ecstatic and not in the intoxicated condition of various other bronze Fauns from Herculaneum and Pompeii…”

Dancing Faun of Pompeii plaster cast, photo by CosmoWenmanThe timeless, enthusiastic response to the Faun in the Power and Pathos exhibit is great. And the public’s impulse to collect a copy for themselves can live on too: in 2013 I laser scanned a 19th-century plaster cast of the Faun at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum.

I’ve used that 3D data to make 3D printed gold, silver, bronze, brass, and steel pendants, which you can buy here:

More importantly, though, I’ve made the data freely available to anyone, with no restrictions on its use. Click here to download the 3D-printable files:

Here’s a sampling of what people have done with the data in the year since I shared it:

Click here for an orientable, zoomable 3D viewer of the Faun data:



20150414 Man In High Castle Map 670px

July 29, 2015

Last year for Veterans Day I wrote about my Russian-born grandfather, Boris Krass, a US Army intelligence officer during WWII. In 1944 he interviewed hundreds of Russian slave-laborers whom the Allies had recently liberated from Nazi labor camps. He found hate for the Nazis, hangings, black markets, sabotage, murders, Russian prisoners all but abandoned by the USSR, and calculating Germans hedging their bets by passing information to their captives. You can read his secret report to the Army and OSS here.

I recently learned that he also interrogated Soviet soldiers who, under the command of Red Army General Andrey Vlassov, defected, donned Wehrmacht uniforms, and fought alongside the Nazis before, as POWs, offering to fight Nazis again for the Americans.

Now I’m sharing the Philip K. Dick-worthy wartime story of my Italian-American great-grandfather, Mario Boet, a naturalized US citizen who lived in Manhattan. According to this 1942 New York Times report, he apparently spent his war years inventing—and possibly trying to realize—alternate post-war realities.

Espionage, sabotage, secret submarine landings, Allied defeat, and fascist occupation…

Highlights from the Times:

Son of an Italian Admiral Is Accused of Attempting to Damage Army Morale

A seditious attempt to damage the morale of the armed forces through letters cursing the United States and belittling its power, while floridly praising the Axis, was charged yesterday to Mario Albert Boet…

Boet’s letters … were addressed to General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff; to Lieut. Gen. Ben Lear, to the superintendent of West Point Military Academy and to various newspapers and radio stations…

In one letter … Boet described himself as having been landed by an Axis submarine at Huntington, L.I. The letter directed its recipient, who was not identified, to go at once to Detroit and obtain a list of war plants, with data on their production. Written before this country entered the war, the letter contained the assertion that its writer, if he found the United States unready to fight, would try to get it into the world conflict.

Excerpts from the Plattsburg Press-Republican:


The letters, according to the FBI, contained the following statements:

1. If American soldiers dare to land on French or Italian soil, they will meet a Dunkirk worse than the British Dunkirk.

2. If an AEF [American Expeditionary Force] landed in Europe, the Japanese would land on the Pacific Coast.

3. General[s] and admiral[s] who preach an invasion of Europe should listen to Rome and Berlin broadcasts and thereby learn such an attempt would result in calamity for the invaders.

4. America under Axis control would create more jobs, distribute riches more evenly, promote opportunity, improve living conditions.

5. The American fleet is impotent, the resources of the country disorganized, the people divided, the soldiers without training.

From the Tasmania Examiner:

In one letter Boet wrote: “I have landed safely from a submarine and have reached Huntington harbor by motor boat. I am working for the beloved Fuehrer here among our worst enemies.”

More from the Times:

Some of his letters were signed Roberto, a contraction of Rome, Berlin, Tokyo.

The purported submarine landing on Long Island, while certainly not true, is an interesting detail. The Italian navy did have a sophisticated submarine program, and later in the war developed plans with Germany to use them to attack New York Harbor. Boet had close ties to Italy, and his then-recently deceased father had in fact been an admiral in the Italian navy. He traveled to Italy frequently, and, the Times reports, had been briefly employed in some capacity by the Italian consulate. He also lived in Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood, where the pro-Nazi German-American Bund was an active and very visible presence.

He was arrested by the FBI and charged with sedition. Boet was one of the relatively few Italian-Americans to be imprisoned in US wartime internment camps. According to Justice Department records, he was held at Ellis Island, then Fort Meade, Fort McAlester, and finally Fort Missoula, Montana.

While he was imprisoned, his US-born son, a radio operator in the US Army Air Forces, flew bombing missions over Italy, and his 19-year-old daughter eloped with a Russian-born US Army intelligence officer (my grandmother and grandfather).

Boet was likely released sometime after Italy’s September 8, 1943 surrender to the Allies. After the war he told his family he was astounded at how well he was treated as a prisoner. This appeared to have played a large part in his newfound affection for the US, as did, no doubt, his need to resolve his own family’s conflicting and rapidly evolving national identities and allegiances.

My mother knew her grandfather Boet to be a very kind, gentle man. Growing up, she was told only that he had been arrested and interned during the war for writing letters threatening the life of FDR, motivated by his great distress over his adoptive country gearing up to go to war with his homeland and close relatives still in Italy. The details of his letters—the submarine, the espionage, the “Roberto” pseudonym, the plot to induce the US to enter the war—are new to her, and she doesn’t quite know what to make of them, other than to feel sorry for him.

I imagine that my great-grandfather’s wartime missives were in fact bluster—at most an ill-conceived freelance disinformation campaign to dissuade the US from war—and that had there been any substance to his plots, he would have faced a much harsher fate than internment. But I have no way of knowing who, if anyone, Boet might have been communicating with, and what was merely his invention and what was reality.



20150501 The Getty Kouros by Cosmo Wenman

“One of those two Zippo lighters was in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pocket when he was assassinated. And one wasn’t. One has historicity, a hell of a lot of it. As much as any object ever had. And one has nothing. Can you feel it? … You can’t. You can’t tell which is which. There’s no ‘mystical plasmic presence,’ no ‘aura’ around it.” —Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
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20150423 Venus de Milo Spinning Thread with Greek Vase, by Cosmo Wenman

This Slate story, What Was the Venus de Milo Doing With Her Arms? by Virginia Postrel describes a fun project she hired me to work on–designing and 3D printing a restoration of Venus de Milo’s missing arms, showing her holding tools, spinning thread in the ancient technique.

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20140820G TIBM Cover Art_mediumres

I designed the cover of the 10th anniversary e-book edition of Brian Doherty’s history of Burning Man, This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground.

I used a copyright-free image of cracked desert floor, and superimposed the partial ring shape of the Burning Man festival map as though it were sunlight focused by a magnifying glass.



Curious if the Smithsonian had any notable unpublished 3D scans, and how the museum is prioritizing its digitization efforts, in 2014 I sent the Smithsonian’s Office of General Counsel a records request.

I was hoping for Rodins, Degas, Bugattis, and more. Here’s what I found:

Since then, the Smithsonian has produced a very unusual 3D scan of an extremely high-profile subject that would be of great interest to the public. But they haven’t made the scan accessible to the public. I’ve been trying to access it, but the museum’s legal department has completely refused.

Instead of granting access to this purportedly-sensitive scan, the Smithsonian’s senior lawyers offered only dilatory responses and arbitrary interpretations of loopholes in the Smithsonian’s open access policies. Their explanations to me include comments such as “we’ve answered your questions, what’s not clear?” and that there are “any number of other reasons” they would keep the scan from the public.

I’m still pursuing this, and hope to share more about it here soon.



20200127 Parthenon Horse Camera Angles, Cosmo Wenman

In my 2015 presentation to the California Association of Museums’ conference panel on access, I advocated that museums begin freely publishing the many archival-quality 3D scans they’ve been accumulating for over a decade, but have not been sharing.

I also clarify the difference between museums welcoming amateur scanners (that is, allowing photography in their galleries) and museums publishing their own high-quality scans. And I list examples of of the world’s cultural heritage that have already been digitized, but are currently locked up inside museums’ and universities’ research labs.

You can read an adaptation of my presentation at



20200126 PINTEREST Cosmo Wenman, cropped

I’ve put together a Pinterest board collecting photos people have posted online of their 3D prints of my 3D scans. Over 100,000 scan downloads to date, and countless 3D prints all over the world. I’d venture to guess that the 2,500-year-old Acropolis Kore 678, for example, has only ever taken physical form in Japan as a 3D print of my scan.



20150104 Getty Caligula by Cosmo Wenman 2

“Although he is now a god, he is still the same lovable young man we’ve always known. I can attest to that. And to enable his relationships with all of us to continue exactly as they were, he has decided, for convenience, to retain his mortal form. Oh and by the way his sister Drusilla’s become a godess. Any questions?” —Macro, in the BBC’s I, Claudius
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20141106 Eric Gill, Ecstasy by Cosmo Wenman

I’m publishing this work as an example for my application for the Tate IK Prize 2015. My project—Tate Britain Unbound—would digitize and publish as many modern-era, public domain sculptures in Tate Britain’s collection as the project’s budget allows, along the lines of my Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle project. This Eric Gill capture is a demonstration both of what’s feasible, and of my sincere interest in increasing access to Tate Britain’s collection.
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November 11, 2014

My grandfather, Boris Krass, was born in Russia, and while still very young spent 5 or 6 years as a refugee in Germany with other White Russian families before coming to the US.

Fluent in English, Russian, and German, he was an intelligence officer in the US Army during WWII. In 1944 he interrogated hundreds of Russian forced-labor prisoners that the Allies had liberated from the Nazis.

This is a report he made to the Army and OSS about their situation:
Intelligence Report by Boris Krass.pdf


“Bombings and black markets afford the only source of extra food.”

“If an Osterbeiter is … caught walking with a German girl, he is hanged the next day.”

“By far the great majority of Russians have nothing but hate for the Nazis”

“Incidents of sabotage, killing, plots, and secret organizations have been cited to this interrogator.”

“Several Ost workers have reported that they had been carefully approached by Germans, self-styled Anti-Nazis, who have invited them to listen to Allied broadcasts in the secrecy of their homes.”

“Many of the Russian girls working as domestic servants in private homes listen to the radio in the absence of their employers. The subject matter of these broadcasts is then widely disseminated among other Russian laborers.”

Still-captive Russian prisoners want guidance on:

– Should we resist evacuations, and hide to await the Americans?

– How can we fight the Nazis at the critical moment? Sabotage? Passive resistance? Arms? Open revolt?

– How should we act during an air-raid?

“It is beyond the scope of this report to deal with the delicate question of why the Soviet Union has left much to be desired in sending propaganda to its citizens in Germany. It is presumed to be a matter of politics.”



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Portraits of a Child I & II

I scanned two privately held, traditional busts of children and remixed them with two powerful, otherworldy, and futuristic sculptures I admire: Constantin Brancusi’s 1910 Sleeping Muse at the Met, and Jacob Epstein’s 1915 Portrait of Iris Beerbohm Tree at Tate Britain.

Once the busts of the children were scanned, I digitally edited them to incorporate features and styling from the century-old museum pieces, which I modeled by eye from photo references. I 3D printed the results in plastic and finished them in bright and patinated brass.

I’m not sure what it says about my own perception, or about the current (stale?) state of science fiction imagery, but the futuristic iconography that most resonates with me is from futures conceived long ago. William Gibson giving up on predicting the future comes to mind, and fits into the picture somehow. I also think of Disneyland restyling Tomorrowland, moving away from a 1960s brute-force engineered future, and toward hundred-year-old Jules Vernesque fantasy imagery.

In any case, the surreal, Promethean spread of creative power via easy 3D scanning and printing hints at very cool, unpredictable things to come.


Life-size 3D Printed Portrait

My client asked for a life-sized 3D printed portrait of a colleague. Because the portrait was to be a surprise gift, there was no opportunity to scan the subject. The piece had to be modeled from photos of him culled from the web.

I proposed a bust, roughly from the shoulders up, with classical allusions, but I was vague about the details beyond that. The final design references the Artemision Bronze, Leighton’s An Athlete Wrestling with a Python at Tate Britain, and a few pop culture sources.

I took a risk and bet that they’d like something other than a standard chairman-of-the-board type treatment. And what’s the point of having rock & roll hair if you aren’t going to do the whole heroic barbarian-warrior-champion-god thing when you have your life-size 3D printed portrait done?

This is the result.

This kind of remixing is just one small reason the world’s back catalog of public domain sculptural artwork should be digitized and published, freely, and without restriction. More on that front soon…

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Ecstasy by Eric Gill in bronze by Cosmo Wenman_close crop_reduced

Eric Gill, ‘Ecstasy’, 1910-1

I captured Gill’s 1910 limestone Ecstasy at Tate Britain in August 2012, and have cast it in bright bronze, 21 inches tall.

See 3D Scanning, 3D Printing, Bronze Casting, and the Art of the Living Dead for its story.

Download the 3D printable model here:



The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

Shark, glass, silicone, plastic, 1.5% Red Bull solution
30 x 15 x 20 cm

This original work is offered for sale directly from the artist’s studio, and will be delivered to the buyer by the artist himself (pending helipad proximity). Serious inquiries only, please.

Download the 3D printable model here:




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20141019 MedusaRondanini by CosmoWenman

“[T]he mere knowledge that such a work could be created and still exists in the world makes me feel twice the person I was … If I can get hold of a good cast of this Medusa, I shall bring it back with me…”—Goethe, Italian Journey

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20200126 LACMA display by Cosmo Wenman

In early 2014, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) opened its new Art + Technology Lab, and invited me to give its very first presentation.

My talk was on the topic of 3D printing, 3D capture, and opportunities for museums to use these new technologies to bring art to a wider audience. It was a private presentation to a diverse cross section of roughly fifty LACMA staff, including curators, asset managers, and fundraisers. There were a few raised eyebrows when it came to the topics of copyright and public domain, but overall it went well. Reactions ranged from positive and enthusiastic to—and I quote—”I think this is bullshit.” So I must be doing something right.

My presentation is here: 3D Printing, 3D Capture, and Opportunities for Design Custodians

The arrangement in the image shown above was intended to illustrate plenitude—the abundance, variety, and endless adaptation that these technologies can facilitate.

The video below is a sped-up compilation of a few of the videos and images I used in my presentation (minus the ominous music). It features photos of others’ prints of some of my 3D captures.





For quick shoots, any digital camera will do, including cellphone cameras. But for a controlled shoot, I recommend:

– 50mm lens
– Tripod (depending on conditions)
– Remote shutter release (if using tripod)
– Strong, diffuse lighting
– Polarizing filter (for shiny objects)
– Measuring tape
– Blue masking tape


Strong, very diffuse light is best. Harsh shadows can create problems.

A motionless, non-reflective, and varied background is good. The more random features there are in the background, the better the system can track points and triangulate.

A monochrome, uniform, featureless background can be problematic. Add clutter or tape marks to the background.

Repeating patterns on carpet or wallpaper are problematic.


Light-colored, matte materials with some color variation are best. Dull, weathered stone is ideal.

Shiny, reflective surfaces are problematic. A polarizing filter may help reduce specularity in some cases. Dark, shiny bronze statues are very challenging.


Use as low an ISO setting as possible, to reduce noise. The software actually matches pixels to pixels from one photo to the next, so sensor noise creates a lot of problems.

Use as small an aperture as possible (high F-stop). The foreground and background both need to be in focus.

Use a tripod and remote shutter release for longer exposures.

If using a high F-stop is not possible, and the background cannot be kept in focus, at least try to keep the subject itself entirely in focus. Filling the frame with the subject can also improve results if a lower F-stop must be used.


Take a measurement of a linear feature of the subject, or something in the background that will also be picked up in every shot. If feasible, place an object with a straight edge and known size in the scene, near or against the subject, and leave it there for the duration of the shoot. Don’t move it during the shoot. These will provide scale references.

Before shooting, find a distance from and path around the subject and a single zoom length that will allow you to take all your photos without adjusting the zoom. Avoid getting so close that you see big lensing/fish-eye or perspective and foreshortening distortions.

When shooting, don’t change the zoom ring at all. This is critical—you can move the entire camera closer or further away from the subject as needed, but don’t change the lens or exposure settings at all from shot to shot, as doing so will ruin the survey.

Try to have the subject fill the frame as much as possible.

Rotating the camera from shot to shot—from portrait to landscape or anything in between—is OK.

The light source cannot change or move relative to the subject at all from shot to shot. Don’t use a mobile flash. Any light source or flash needs to be fixed relative to the subject.

Take at least three laps around the subject, shooting from medium, high, then low angles, keeping the entire subject in frame. Then for additional close-up detail shots, take additional laps around the subject while aiming the camera so that the lens’ line of sight is perpendicular to the surface of the subject in the frame.

Take all photos in sequence—each shot should overlap with its neighboring shots. Don’t jump around the subject.

Every point on the subject must be in at least one series of at least three consecutive shots. The more series, from multiple angles, and the more consecutive shots per feature, the better the system can match points.

Make sure to take photos of features that are obscured by other features.

If you want to try different exposure settings, treat each shoot as a completely new photoshoot. Never mix settings between complete shoots. Take a photo of something between settings changes so that later you can see at a glance where the different exposure sets start and stop.


Don’t edit the photos in any way. No cropping, re-sizing, levels adjusting, or masking.

When uploading, start with the shots that loop around the subject while keeping the subject completely in frame. Low, medium, and high angles. Then add any detail shots.


If practical, shoot in RAW, in addition to JPG. Some applications may be able to get better results with different JPG compressions of the original RAW files.

Shoot more photos than current software requires. You may get better results from set-to-set, or from different loops around the object within a set. More powerful applications may soon be able to get better results with more shots, so you may as well take as many as practical instead of going back and starting over a year later when more powerful software is available.



My client asked for a life-sized 3D printed portrait of his colleague, venture capitalist Brad Feld. Because the portrait was to be a surprise gift to Feld, there was no opportunity to scan the subject. The piece had to be modeled from photos of him culled from the web.

I proposed a bust, roughly from the shoulders up, with classical allusions, but I was vague about the details beyond that. The final design references the Artemision Bronze, Leighton’s An Athlete Wrestling with a Python and a few other sources.

I took a risk and bet that they’d like something other than a standard chairman-of-the-board type treatment. And what’s the point of having rock & roll hair if you aren’t going to do the whole heroic barbarian-warrior-champion-god thing when you have your life-size 3D printed portrait done?

This is the result.

This kind of remixing is just one small reason the world’s back catalog of public domain sculptural artwork should be digitized and published, freely, and without restriction.

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20140411 Life-size 3D Printed Portrait by Cosmo Wenman 3

20140411 Life-size 3D Printed Portrait by Cosmo Wenman 1

20140411 Life-size 3D Printed Portrait by Cosmo Wenman 2







“[T]he mere knowledge that such a work could be created and still exists in the world makes me feel twice the person I was. I would say something about it if everything one could say about such a work were not a waste of breath. Works of art exist to be seen, not talked about, except, perhaps, in their presence. I am thoroughly ashamed of all the babbling about art in which I used to join. If I can get hold of a good cast of this Medusa, I shall bring it back with me…” — Goethe, Italian Journey



Download model files here:

“No classical education is needed to appreciate the personification, nor is it hard to grasp the drama of the figure’s action given its superb position–and this is so despite the absence of arms and head; indeed perhaps its maimed condition has helped make the life it retains seem more miraculous.” — Francis Haskell, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900

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Download model files here:

“Supreme western works of art, like Oedipus Rex and Hamlet, preserve their indeterminacy through all interpretation. They are morally ungraspable. Even the Venus de Milo gained everything by losing her arms.” — Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

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I’m tinkering with ideas and images for possible presentation at LACMA. This is a comparison of people’s response to the original Venus de Milo in the Louvre to their response to my 3D captured, 3D printed copy at the 2013 Paris 3D Printshow. The show was in the Louvre expo space, so my print was just a couple hundred feet away from the original.

I’m thinking that the fact that so many people are viewing the original through screens and taking photos undercuts the argument that there’s some essential, ineffable, supernatural awe involved in seeing the original, when really what people want is interaction, touch, control, and possession, all of which they get by mediating their experience with cell phones and cameras (for now).

November 22, 2013



I’m working on ideas and images for a possible upcoming presentation to LACMA staff on 3D printing, 3D scanning, art, and museums. Here are photos of people at last week’s 3D Printshow in Paris responding to my 3D printed invention of Perikles’ helmet—a copy of an artifact that hasn’t been discovered and likely does not exist. Photos and touching allowed…

Novermber 22, 2013



Because when’s the next time I’m going to be alone, after hours at the Louvre, with Vangelisesque muzak playing on the PA system, with my 3D captured, 3D printed bronze-cast bootleg of a Matisse? I found a buyer too…

From “3D Printed Lost PLA Bronze Casting and the Art of the Living Dead

(Why does YouTube suggest “Nightmare” as a tag for this video?)



October 27, 2013

These pieces will be on display in a gallery space at the shows:

20131030 3D Captured 3D Printed Venus de Milo by Cosmo Wenman
Venus de Milo, 130 BCE
1850 plaster cast by the Louvre atelier, 3D captured in the Skulpturhalle Basel museum 9/2013

This print of Venus de Milo is derived from my recent 3D capture of the Skulpturhalle Basel museum’s 1850 plaster cast of the original. That high quality cast, likely made by the Louvre’s own atelier, was part of a vibrant 19th century tradition of museums, universities, art schools, and wealthy collectors buying and trading plaster reproductions of famous works from each other so that they could be seen by larger audiences. That tradition is about to be brought back to life — when I publish my 3D capture and 3D printable files of Venus de Milo, anyone will be able to print their own copy.

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated copper finish



20131030 3D Captured 3D Printed Winged Victory of Samothrace by Cosmo Wenman
Winged Victory of Samothrace, 200 BCE
1892 plaster cast by the Louvre atelier, 3D captured in the Skulpturhalle Basel museum 9/2013

This print of Nike, Winged Victory of Samothrace is derived from my recent 3D capture of the Skulpturhalle Basel museum’s plaster cast of the original. That high quality cast was made by the Louvre atelier in 1892, and was one of the most popular plasters to be collected by museums, universities, art schools, and wealthy collectors around the world. Now that Winged Victory has been unveiled here as a 3D print, I will publish my 3D capture and 3D printable files, and she’ll be unleashed for everyone to enjoy.

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated copper finish


Getty Caligula in Bronze by Cosmo Wenman
Getty Villa Caligula in Bronze, 40 AD
Marble original 3D captured at the Getty Villa, 11/2012

In early 2013, I produced a life-size bronze adaptation of my capture of the Getty Villa’s marble portrait of Caligula. In the onscreen design, I added a fracture to his neck to match that of the Met’s bronze portrait of his grandfather, Marcus Agrippa. I also deleted his eyes. When a bronze or marble has its eyes intact, the viewer can put themselves in the center of the sculpture’s field of view, as though it were looking back at them. The overall effect is proximity and familiarity. But when the eyes are lost, the piece never looks back. It is always looking through, or past, the observer. The subject becomes distant and enigmatic, even glamourous. Or perhaps dead, ghostly, or lost — a vacant, uninhabited shell of what once was, suggesting a previous life. It becomes an artifact.

Material: Bronze



RamessesII in Bronze by Cosmo Wenman
Colossal Bust of Ramesses II / Ozymandias, 1250 BCE
Granite original 3D captured at the British Museum, 11/2012

I digitally cut away the damaged surfaces of my 3D capture of the British Museum’s famous Ramesses II, The Younger Memnon, the size, face, and incompleteness of which were the inspiration for Shelley’s Ozymandias. The pretty design is 3,200 years old, originally part of a mortuary temple in Thebes. All involved in its creation are long dead, unable to interfere with or protest its reuse and new life as data, plastic, or bronze. I printed and cast only the intact parts, creating a decorative bronze bauble, broken and patinated with age, worn bright where it has been touched.

Material: Bronze


Ecstasy by Eric Gill in bronze by Cosmo Wenman_close crop_reduced
“Ecstasy” by Eric Gill, 1910
Hoptonwood stone original 3D captured in the Tate Britain, 8/2012

“Death plus seventy years” is the magic spell that buries most art from the modern era along with its creators. Fortunately, if that’s the right way to put it, Eric Gill has been dead just long enough for all his work to have passed out of limbo and into the public domain. He’s been dead since 1940, so his work no longer has to be buried with him, or confined to a single place, instance, or iteration — or displayed in mausoleum-like museums. I captured Gill’s 1910 limestone Ecstasy at the Tate Britain in August 2012, and have given it a new life in bronze.

From Lost PLA Bronze Casting and the Art of the Living Dead
By Cosmo Wenman

Material: Bronze


20131006 Pericles Helmet
Sketch of Perikles’ Helmet, 2nd century AD
Modelled after the original marble Portrait of Perikles 3D captured in the British Museum, 8/2012

I made a quick 3D capture of the British Museum’s Marble portrait bust of Perikles. I used the results as a template, taking its measurements and contours as a guide in order to design this rough 3D printed sketch of his helmet, making a copy of an artifact that has never been discovered.

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated bronze and brass finish.



20130617 GeorgeMelies Tansition Data to Plastic to Bronzed
“Georges Méliès” by Renato Carvillani, 1951
“Créateur du spectacle cinématographique”
Bronze original 3D captured in Père Lachaise Cemetery, 11/2012

I scanned several graves in Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris, in October, 2012. There are so many incredible sculptures to choose from there, monuments to incredible people. This one is special — the verdigris bronze bust by Renato Carvillani that graces the grave of French illusionist and cinematography pioneer Georges Méliès — the father of special effects and science fiction movies. It seems fitting to render him in a new medium.

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated bronze finish.


These pieces will be on display at Autodesk’s exhibit:

The Inopos / Alexander the Great, circa 100 BCE
Marble original 3D captured at the Louvre, 11/2012

Originally thought to represent the Cycladic river god Inopos, the nearly one meter tall fragmented bust known as “The Inopos” is now accepted as a portrait of Alexander the Great. If the full figure had survived intact, it would stand at well over eight feet tall—god scale. At the Louvre, the imposing, larger-than-life figure hides in plain sight, largely unnoticed, staring down at the crowds that flock to see the Venus de Milo just twenty feet away.

I captured the original in the Louvre in October 2012 and digitally restored its damaged nose using a nose I captured from a portrait of Alexander at the British Museum.

From 3D Printed Portraiture: Past, Present, and Future
By Cosmo Wenman

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated bronze finish.


2013 Parthenon Head of a Horse of Selene 3D printed and Finished in Patinated Brass by Cosmo Wenman
Head of a Horse of Selene, from the Parthenon, 438-432 BCE
Marble original 3D captured at the British Museum, 8/2012

I originally printed this horse and finished it in metal, in an effort to show that consumer-grade 3D printers can produce objects of art worthy of display. I made it life-size because I thought doing so would be jarring; it would help break consumer-grade 3D printing out of the toy and trinket realm and make it all seem more real somehow.

But I chose this and a few other archetypical subjects (like Alexander the Great) in particular to try to advance the idea that with 3D scanning and 3D printing, private collectors and museums have an opportunity to turn their collections into living engines of cultural creation. They can digitize their three-dimensional collections and project them outward into the public realm to be adapted, multiplied, and remixed.

If I can do it with just a camera and some free software, the Getty, the Met, the British Museum, or the Louvre–or a wealthy collector–can do it too. In fact, they’ve already done a lot of the scanning, they just haven’t done much of the publishing. But they should, in my opinion, because these technologies offer a way to break great art out of mausoleum-like settings, and put them where they can come alive and reach and influence many more people, in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture.

Materials: PLA plastic with patinated brass finish.




Broken PLA Mold grey bg by Cosmo Wenman

October 24, 2014

Over the last year, I have been experimenting with combining 3D capture, 3D design, and 3D printing with traditional lost wax bronze casting techniques. I’d like to use these technologies to develop a reliable method for producing large-scale traditional, artisanal bronzes faster and less expensively than has ever been possible in bronze’s 5,000 year history.

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October 23, 2013

20131021 Venus de Milo and Winged Victory on sideboard by Cosmo Wenman

I spent a week in the Skulpturhalle Basel plaster cast museum in late September. I got some great 3D captures and I’ll start publishing them soon, starting with Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. Thanks again to the Skulpturhalle for giving me access to their collection, and to Autodesk and its Reality Capture division for their financial support, without which I would not have been able to undertake this project.

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From Umberto Eco’s essay Casablanca, or, The Clichés are Having a Ball:

“Thus Casablanca is not just one film. It is many films, an anthology. Made haphazardly, it probably made itself, if not actually against the will of its authors and actors, then at least beyond their control. And this is the reason it works, in spite of aesthetic theories and theories of film making. For in it there unfolds with almost telluric force the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it.

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You can read all the details about my (now failed) Kickstarter, Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle here, but here’s the short version: my goal is to 3D scan a selection of plaster casts of important, archetypal sculptures at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum. I will then 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. It’s a way to broaden access to sculptural masterworks to everyone.

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Download model files here:

George Melies 3D scanned 3D printed by Cosmo Wenman
Left: the original bronze bust marking Méliès’ grave at Père Lachaise cemetery. Right: my 3D print.

I’m sharing this 3D printable scan of Georges Méliès to thank everyone who has supported my ongoing Kickstarter campaign, Through a Scanner, Skulpturhalle.

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January 8, 2013

MakerBot Industries exhibited a collection of my 3D printed artwork in their exhibit at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

We have a common interest in demonstrating that with the right finishes and attention to detail, consumer-grade 3D printers can already produce objects of art worthy of public and private display—objects of desire that show that the 3D scanned and printed future is now.

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There’s something surreal about the whole scan/edit/print process that’s hard to describe. Like a dream, it needs to be experienced to be appreciated. But if there are sculptures that resonate with and might be able to communicate some of that weirdness, the ancient bronze Head of Hypnos in the British Museum is one of them. The subject: the god of sleep, father to Morpheus, god of dreams—the design: the piece’s odd asymmetry, the single wing, and the missing wing, the ambiguous gender. The whole package makes for a remarkable artifact of otherworldliness which has spoken to people across time.

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Head of a horse of Selene in Epic Bronze. A well maintained, lightly patinaed outdoor bronze, its muzzle polished bright where people have pet it as they would a real horse. In August 2012 I photographed a number of objects in the British Museum, including “Marble Portrait of Alexander the Great” , and “Head of a Horse of Selene“. I used Autodesk’s 123D Catch application to process my photographs into 3D wireframe models. I printed them on a MakerBot Replicator, and I metalized and patinated them with Alternate Reality Patinas. Then I published the scans and design files into the public domain.

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August 1, 2012

In response to Thingiverse’s “Capture Your Town” challenge I’ve captured several locations in Anaheim; “my town”, broadly speaking, being Southern California. These are significant locations here, for horrible reasons:

The first 3D photoscan is of an ephemeral memorial marking the location where Manuel Diaz was shot to death by Anaheim police on July 21, 2012, at 704 North Anna Drive.

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My Cosmonaut figure as Venus, on a Replicator, after Botticelli. Archetype meets Renaissance meets 1920s futurism meets bleeding-edge pop culture. She’s getting closer and closer to stepping out into the real world.

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Shark, glass, silicone, plastic, 1.5% Red Bull solution
30 x 15 x 20 cm

This original work is offered for sale directly from the artist’s studio, and will be delivered to the buyer by the artist himself (pending helipad proximity). Serious inquiries only, please.

Even Damien Hirst’s shark likes it!



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I spent several hours scanning sculptures at the Norton Simon Museum in Los Angeles in June 2012. I was very happy that their 1905 cast of Auguste Rodin’s 1877 The Walking Man scanned the best: a seminal piece from a movement dedicated to seeing and expressing the world in new ways, with new eyes…

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June 4, 2012

When The Getty Center first opened its doors in 1997, a local billionaire remarked that it was “too good for Los Angeles.” Luckily, the J. Paul Getty Museum knows better. Nothing is too good for Los Angeles, and no works of art are too good for the people who admire them.

For thousands of years, powerful people have commissioned artists to venture into museums, churches, temples, and ruins around the world to make copies for their private collections. Today, with 3D scanning, photo-stitching, and printing, that tradition is poised to evolve and spread faithful reproductions of treasured artwork far beyond the walls of elite palaces.

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First run of my MakerBot Replicator, printing a default test object: the spiral box. I took this opportunity to explore the elements of the perfect YouTube video: an unnecessarily long 30-second intro before the action starts, cameras that are both shaky and blurry, and an overwrought electronica soundtrack. When I have a bit more time I’ll plaster it with comment overlays. Enjoy!



March 3, 2012

This was my submission to one of Andrew Sullivan’s View From Your Window Contests:

The view is of buildings overlooking Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon. It’s of a special spot too; a pivotal location in a great movie that helped put Vallarta on the map and gave it a place in Hollywood romance lore.

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March 19, 2013

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Alexander C. Kafka reviews an interesting-looking new book on aesthetics by neuroscientist Eric Kandel: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present. Kafka quotes Kandel’s analysis of Gustav Klimt’s Judith and the Head of Holofernes:

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Whenever I hear the opening minute of Loretta Lynn and Jack White’s duet Portland Oregon, I think that’s surf music. I had to set some Southern California beach imagery to it.

I shot these photos at San Onofre, because what day at the beach is complete without attack helicopter fly-bys and a nuclear reactor?

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A crude little portrait of a crude little man—MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd, emblazoned with the 09F9 AACS encryption key. I created this object and published a torrent of it on The Pirate Bay as soon as those crazy bastards announced their “physibles” category on January 23, 2012. The torrent is here. Print it, and behold the visage of yesteryear.



I really like the Gap ad with Juliette Lewis and Daft Punk. There’s something very genuine about Lewis’ performance, movements, and expressions—it seems like she was having fun making the ad, and it comes through. Watching the Beyoncé video Single Ladies, with its trio of dancers and simple backdrop, it struck me that these two videos need mashing.

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These are photographs I took of private homes over a decade or so, with a focus on the windows and doors. Most of these shoots were fairly impromptu, with little notice, scouting, or set up time. All but a few—including daylight interior shots—using only available light. Quick and dirty shots to include in printed and online product advertising.

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January 8, 2012

Every week Andrew Sullivan posts a photo and holds a contest to see who can locate the window from which it was taken; the “View From Your Window” contest.

This video was my entry for the January 7, 2012 contest. My guess was Budapest, Hungary.

I made this video of my search process just for fun, and to cut through all the submissions he gets, but I added the Blade Runner dialog, the stupid computer sounds, and the mind-numbing electronica on principle. (Remember when computers used to make loud clicking and beeping sounds as they were working? Me neither. At least they’re still noisy in the future.)

For some reason, Sullivan—one of the most widely read writers on the internet— never credits the readers who send him the comments or contest submissions he publishes. I took care of that by changing the title of my video after he’d embedded it on his site. See the result here.



This video shows my process from my original photograph of the Vatican museum’s bust of Claudius, through photo editing, to layout in pencil, and painting in acrylic on canvas (36″ x 48″). The recital of Robert Graves’ “The Sibyl’s Prophecy” is from I, Claudius, BBC, 1976.



Virginia [Virginia Postrel, DeepGlamour Editor-in-chief—CW] recently tweeted and posted on Facebook asking, “What photos should absolutely be in a book on glamour?” While putting together this collection of recommendations from pop-culture, I sought out the two photos above, of Sean Young in Blade Runner and Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

But it wasn’t until I saw them side by side that I realized how similar they are. Not only do both women know how to hold the hell out of a cigarette, but the images’ contexts are nearly identical.

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This is a mashup of the clever interactive Facebook site Take This Lollipop.

Instead of watching the stalker track you down, in my version we watch him experience the full range of emotions that typically accompany first exposure to dubstep: wonder, rage, intrigue, confusion, and, finally, bloodlust.