Passion for 3D Scanning Helps Emerging Artist Create Realistic Sculptures

Hopefully like your workplace, our staff here at Direct Dimensions is passionate about many things including music, movies, video games, technology, and even history and art. Fortunately our work with advanced 3D imaging technologies gets us involved in all of these areas rather frequently. We consider ourselves extremely lucky that so often we have the opportunity to work on such interesting projects that also happen to correspond to these passions.

We had another such opportunity this past summer when I spotted an online request by an artist looking for help making figurative sculptures. Over the years, weve worked with many museums, curators, galleries, foundries, fabricators, and of course artists. Weve scanned artwork across the spectrum from the most world renowned artists to childrens first clay creations. Weve worked for years, for instance, very closely with the Jeff Koons Studio in New York City as an integral part of their 3D design and fabrication process. Weve scanned dozens of his most famous and valuable pieces and many others that are still moving forward at various stages in his complex fabrication processes. Our work in the art space, and especially with the artists themselves, has been some of the most rewarding and interesting of all.

I had little details about the project from the online forum posting that I spotted in the Parsons School of Design website except a fairly certain expectation that this would likely be another pro bono project for our team – if I give the nod. Nonetheless, given our capabilities with 3D scanning of art & sculpture, and those passions I mentioned earlier, I replied via email that I was willing to help.

Surprised that I would make such an offer, the artist responded quickly, eager to learn more and of course confirmed my suspicion about the budget for this effort. But I also learned that the project was for an upcoming exhibition opening at the experimental art space of New Yorks famous Museum of Modern Art called MoMA PS1 located in Queens. Weve worked extensively with MoMA on various 3D laser scanning and digital analysis projects supporting research on sculptures from Matisse and Degas. In fact one of these projects led to a presentation at the NCPTT 3D Digital Documentation Summit this past July in San Francisco. That technical research, called 3D Scanning of Matisse, The Back I IV: One Thing After Another, was completely supported by 3D scanning.

Over the next few weeks, we coordinated the details of the project with the artist and the curator of the exhibition. The final art pieces would be physical replicas of specific body portions of people wearing or holding ordinary consumer items – more specifically: hands holding bottles, feet wearing shoes, and also replica heads from the neck up. These pieces would all be fabricated from our 3D scanned data using 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, an increasingly popular art fabrication method.

For those of you that follow Direct Dimensions, you know that we scan people all the time. Weve done this for many years for many reasons including art but also to help make cosmetically accurate facial prosthetics, to scan actors for film & TV visual effects, or also Olympic athletes to help improve their performance. So scanning a few people in New York for art purposes is regular work for us.

In late August, our technicians Jeff Mechlinski, Eric Hall, and Andrew Camardella travelled to the MoMA PS1 in Queens NY where they spent two days scanning the hands, feet, and heads of twelve individuals selected by the artist as part of his artistic statement for this exhibition. Because of our passion for art and our 3D technologies, this was another great opportunity to show off the capabilities of 3D scanning as a tool in the process for the creation of art.

After the onsite scanning effort, our team came home and processed the raw data into watertight polygon models suitable for immediate 3D printing. Artist Josh Kline then worked with a local NY university to make the 3D prints for the exhibition.

In the end, this work by Kline continues themes from an earlier exhibition where his showing Creative Hands was described that he employs the visual language of advertising to investigate the lifestyle economy. His sculptures of hands and other body parts are based on body scans of the designers, architects, and tastemakers who shape the brands familiar to us all.

You can see New Pictures of Common Objects exhibition October 21 through December 31, 2012 in the 2nd Floor Project Rooms at MoMA PS1 located at 22-25 Jackson Ave. at the intersection of 46th Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101.

See New Pictures of Common Objects for more on the exhibition.

See 3D Scanning for 3D Printing Art Exhibition on SlideShare for complete graphics.

See MoMA PS1 for more on the experimental art space.

About the Author

Michael Raphael

Michael Raphael ... Michael earned a BS degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech, followed by a Masters of Engineering Administration from George Washington University. During his 10 years at Lockheed Martin as an engineer responsible for solving aerostructures manufacturing quality problems, Michael co-developed the FaroArm portable CMM and became the first user on the planet! In 1995, he founded Direct Dimensions, Inc., providing rapid solutions to 3D problems!

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