“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
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.
I’ve put together this Pinterest board collecting photos people have posted online of their 3D prints of the 3D scans I’ve published online. Over 100,000 downloads to date, and countless 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.
“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
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.
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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“[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