Printing the Past and Present for the Future

posted by – 06/23/15 @ 3:39pm


A recent article in The Atlantic describes the formative steps the Smithsonian is taking in order to preserve and protect the artifacts so delicate and yet so critical to understanding human history and culture, or what I’d simply like to call the Smithsonian’s attempt to create a “future for the past.”

Essentially, technicians and conservators at The Smithsonian take an object, scan it, then create a 3D cast of the object, which is further processed to make it look like the original. These copies are kept by the Smithsonian to be brought out for special occasions, as the original collection owners rely on the income from these artifacts. The concern here is, do the objects hold onto their authenticity once there are copies? This highly intriguing article discusses the “benefits of accessibility…pitted against those of authenticity” and the ongoing quest by museums and others of how to integrate the ever-changing world of technology into the world of antiquity.

Not only is 3D printing going to be progressively used in preserving the past, but it is also going to be transformative in the contemporary art world as artists, including our very own Carol Prusa, as seen below, are ever increasingly experimenting with and using 3D printing as a medium of artistic expression.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 3.36.07 PM

3D printing is literally and figuratively shaping the worlds around us, keeping our head on a swivel while leaving us attentive to the subtle nuances created by increased use and appreciation for rapidly changing technologies.



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