Aug 16, 2016 | By Tess

Recently we wrote about Icelandic superstar Björk’s amazing virtual reality performance in Tokyo, where she debuted a custom designed 3D printed mask on stage. The amazing mask, part of a project called Rottlace, was the result of a collaboration between architect and designer Neri Oxman, MIT’s Mediated Matter research group and 3D printing company Stratasys Ltd. and was designed specifically for Björk. Continue reading to see how exactly the 3D printed mask was conceptualized and made.

Rottlace is an ongoing project that consists of a series of 3D designed and printed masks made for the Icelandic singer/songwriter, each inspired by her most recent album Vulnicura. Through the masks, Oxman and the Mediated Matter group have drawn from Björk’s music to visually explore such themes as self-healing and “the face without a skin”. More than just inspired by her music, however, the masks are also actually based on Björk’s own facial structure and have been designed as sort of second-skins for the singer, which allow her to visually reveal new identities.

As Mediated Matter succinctly expresses about the project, “The series originates with a mask that emulates Björk’s facial structure and concludes with a mask that reveals a new identity, independent of its origin. What originates as a form of portraiture culminates in reincarnation.”

One of the masks from the series, which our readers may be familiar with, was the one unveiled at Björk’s performance in Tokyo this past June, which eerily gave the effect of exposed muscles and tendons on the singer’s face. The mask was manufactured using Stratasys’ Connex3 multi-material 3D printing technology, which not only allowed the designers to capture the look of organic muscles and tissues, but also allowed them to mimic the feel, texture, and even movements of these organic elements. That is, the mask was printed as a single piece from a combination of hard, rigid materials and nano-enhanced, elastomeric structures to capture the feel of the human body as closely as possible.

As Mediated Matter explains it, the masks were designed and conceived of as “muscle textile”. In fact, the way the masks were designed and printed even allows for the wearer to express movement through their face and neck. Using the multi-material 3D printing system, they were able to make the mask so that the fibrous tissue would follow the principal curvature directions of Björk’s facial features (which were captured using a point cloud data facial scan), while the more rigid bone-like tissues would be strategically placed as support structures at “points of high divergence”. As the design team further explains, “While bone-like locations are geometrically informed, their material composition is continuously graded—from stiff to flexible, and from opaque to transparent—as a function of geodesic distances given by the face-scan.”

Quite fittingly, the name of the project Rottlace was itself drawn from the Icelandic word for “skin-less” (Roðlaus), which hints to the thematic inspiration behind the project. Here at 3Ders, we can only hope that MIT’s Mediated Matter research group and boundary pushing superstar Björk continue their collaborations to make even more amazing 3D printed projects.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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