Feb 18, 2016 | By Andre

History is packed with the rise and fall of civilization and culture. We are certain of this today in part because of our ability to preserve and study the physical artifacts that we discover all around the planet we inhabit.

Unfortunately, a number of cases exist in which these artifacts are, for any number of reasons, deemed unnecessary by a ruling power. In 2001, for example, there was international outcry when the Taliban destroyed the fifteen hundred year old Buddhas of Bamiyan and then more recently when in 2015, ISIS purposefully destroyed priceless artifacts located at the Nineveh Museum in Mosul, Iraq.

Fortunately, Iranian artist Morehshin Allhyari is doing everything in her power to restore the essence of this lost history with the help of 3D printing. As previously reported, Morehshin used photographs and restoration software to create digital reproductions of the destroyed artifacts before remaking them with creatively purposed 3D printed replicas (winning an award for her efforts along the way).

This physical to digital to physical restoration process falls right into her philosophy of things to be sure. Morehshin’s mentioned that she thinks "the more people who have access to this information, the less that history is forgotten in a way,” and that, “the more files that are saved on people's computers, even if they’re never printed, the number of PDF files that are read or kept, the more that history that was initially removed by ISIS will be saved.”

While her efforts to recover and restore a broken past are important in their own right, the way she presents her efforts are likely what has won her a gallery showing at Toronto based art space Trinity Square Video (runs through March 19th, 2016)

The collection, called “Material Speculation” is based entirely on her 3D printed reconstructions. In an effort to add commentary to the works, she has embedded a USB key containing all of her research, photographs and 3D print model files in the statues. Luckily, if you’re at the museum you can also access the information with USB memory ports next to the 3D printed artifacts.

And for those at home, you’re in luck as well because Morehshin Allhyari has voluntarily released all her files online. Found within the nearly 600 megabyte file are email correspondences, relevant video, images, documents and a 3D print ready version of the now destroyed Roman-period rendition of King Uthal of Hatra.

An interesting note on her efforts is that while she embraces preservation of history through replication in both a physical and digital medium, she does limit her enthusiasm. When asked about 3D printing, she suggests that “it’s not about celebrating it, but rather asking people to use it in ways that are pushing boundaries and are more than 3D printing a cube, which does nothing to add to the conversation and we’ll just end up with more crap and kipple around us.”

Additionally she poses a really interesting ownership question when outlying the notion of tech companies going about their business 3D scanning the world we live in. “A lot of these projects that are saving Middle Eastern culture is that these are just tech companies that are going to the Middle East and Africa and 3D scanning things, but nobody really knows where these files are going or who owns them.”

To me, her restoration efforts display both historical value and a contemporary commentary on the state of the world we live in today. And as a Torontonian, I can’t wait to go check out the exhibition for myself this coming weekend. I’ll just have to remember to bring a USB stick to help further preserve the digital remains of the Nineveh Museum in Mosul.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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