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Formlabs Enters the Art World with A Month of Making

Recently, we’ve noticed that high quality scans of artworks are catching on as a way to archive and replicate objects whose presence was once limited to museums. Whether by individuals and artists like Cosmo Wegman, art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or historical museums like the Smithsonian, this emergent application of 3D scanning means that cultural artifacts can be shared — and remixed! — by all.

But how do we show off this new library of files? Enter Mark Leckey, an artist and curator based in the UK. Mark’s oeuvre has traditionally focused on selecting evocative references — from historic films, sculptures, and miscellaneous interesting objects — and building a new work by remixing media and objects from another era. 3D scanning and printing objects is a new tool in that iterative process.

Mark Leckey installation
Mark Leckey’s installations consist of curated objects, videos and sculptures and often take on the look of museum exhibits.

For a recent exhibition, Leckey assembled a number of objects together that would then tour through several museum shows in Europe. But the process left him unsatisfied: “…once the exhibition actually materialized in a physical space I was left with a feeling of, not quite anti-climax, but a sense that this was too final; that these things that had been alive to me for the last couple of years were now just dead media…”

In his latest exhibition, now on display at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in NYC, Leckey draws on the objects he has been working with for the last three years. With the objects unavailable — on tour in Europe — he turned to Formlabs for help in recreating those artifacts.

As curator Jamie Kenyon puts it, “We are trying to make these objects life-size, 1:1 scale, and from what I seen of other artists working with 3D printing — and designers and others — the medium’s limitations are there to be pushed. The Form 1 seemed to be the best printer out there right now and one that we hoped would give us results…as close to the real-world cousins as we could get.”

Four Form 1 3D printers displayed during A Month of Making
Gallery-goers watch a bank of Form 1s replicating ancient, modern, and contemporary artworks, one 125mm cubic section at a time.

A Month of Making, open through June 23, features a quartet of Form 1 printers replicating parts Leckey scanned as he prepared for a touring museum show in Europe. After assembling the parts of the pieces together, the highly detailed copies will then serve as stand-ins for the scanned artworks in future exhibitions.

A Month of Making
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
620 Greenwich Street
Open 10 am–6 pm Tuesday–Saturday
Through June 23