I made these pieces in an attempt to show that, with the right finishes and attention to detail, 3D printers can produce objects of art worthy of public and private display. Not just miniature figurines, or toys, or practical household objects, and not just prototypes. They can do more than evoke the desired object, they can be objects of desire.
But I chose these subjects in particular â€” elemental, archetypal museum pieces â€” to try to advance a different but complementary idea; that with 3D scanning and 3D printing, private collectors and museums have an unprecedented opportunity to recast themselves as 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.
They should do this because the best place to celebrate great art is in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture. The world’s back catalog of art should be set free to run wild in our visual, and now tactile, landscape, and whether it turns up lit in pixels on our screens, rematerialized in our living rooms, or embedded in our architecture or clothing, it’s all to the good.
And for forward-thinking, innovative institutions and collectors, and for everyone involved in this young industry, there’s prestige, money, value, meaning, and beauty to be made in making it a reality.
This approach is in its infancy, and has only produced very crude results, but this kind of capability is only going to get more powerful and less expensive. And the fact is, there are hundreds and thousands of photographs online of every notable work, public domain or not, and they are open to this mode of analysis and reconstruction. So the question, how will museums respond… you could stop photography tomorrow, but there’s already data out there from which to reconstruct the models. For many important works, the data has been leaving your museums for the last hundred years.