The rapidly growing world of 3D printing and 3D scanning will soon make it possible for anyone to digitize and reproduce exact replicas of anything they can snap a picture of. This is not an empty prophecy. Online libraries of digital models are already filling with such scans. 3D printers are getting cheaper and more abundant every day. As quality and ubiquity increase, so disappears one of the last vestiges of object-centered preciousness in the art world, the third dimension.
With this work I simply explore the emerging new reality, and try to keep a sense of humor about it. People have been painting mustaches on copies of the Mona Lisa for decades. Now we can merge dollar store kitties with Michelangelo’s David, deface local monuments with kitsch pig heads, rearrange formalist monoliths; and all in small, colorful plastic models. The resulting objects are recognizable in their fine art roots, but are no more precious than the kitsch junk they’ve been merged with. My intent is not to celebrate this change, nor to decry it as something we should fear. Like all new technology, we artists must embrace it, and make art with it.
The questions of copyright, ownership, and authenticity will linger for years. The plastic these models are made of will last even longer.
If you attended one of my presentations on this project and would like to visit the websites I discussed and showed in the session, you can find the links below.
What is 3D Printing?
RepRap.org - Home of the Replicating Rapid Prototyper. This is where affordable 3D printing was born and continues to develop.
Lulzbot, a small 3D printing company in Colorado, has a fleet of RepRaps busy all day every day making more RepRaps.
Thingiverse - Hosted by MakerBot Industries, this is an online, user-generated library of digital 3D objects available for download and generally intended for 3D printing. Thingiverse has established itself as THE place to share and find things to print.
123D Catch is a free, cloud-based 3D scanning program. It delivers amazing results without requiring the purchase of any new equipment.
My 123D Catch scanning rig, a design from Thingiverse.
A compilation of print time lapses from this project.