Nov 18, 2016 | By Benedict

Stratasys has launched The New Ancient, a new art and design collection that includes Vespers, a series of 15 3D printed death masks designed by Neri Oxman. The masks will be unveiled at the grand reopening of London’s Design Museum next week.

VESPERS, Mask 3, Series 2, 2016. Photo credit: Yoram Reshef

Neri Oxman, an American-Israeli architect and designer, has been at the forefront of creative 3D printing for a number of years. Her work has spanned 3D printed architecture, futuristic artworks, and—most recently—a selection of 3D printed masks that were picked up by Icelandic music sensation Bjork for a recent VR exhibition. Oxman, an MIT professor and leader of the university’s Mediated Matter Group, appears to be sticking with masks for the time being, with the visionary’s new collection of 3D printed “death masks” set to be unveiled next week.

Vespers, Oxman’s collection of 3D printed death masks, feature 15 masks in total, divided into three subcategories: Past, Present, and Future. “Made of a single material, such as wax or plaster, the death mask has historically originated as a means of capturing a person’s visage, keeping the deceased ‘alive’ through memory,” Oxman explained. “Vespers’ death masks, however, are designed to reveal cultural heritage and speculate about the perpetuation of life, both cultural and biological.”

VESPERS, Mask 1, Series 1, 2016. Photo credit: Danielle van Zadelhoff

Rather than use traditional design techniques to produce the masks, Oxman and her team—Christoph Bader, Dominik Kolb, Rachel Smith, and Sunanda Sharma of the Mediated Matter Group—used data-driven processes to digitally generate 3D models of the masks, before 3D printing them on high-resolution Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D printers. According to Oxman, the 3D printed masks express the deeper meaning of a death mask, as well as their possible future use, bringing the tradition back to life.

“Past,” the first sub-series of Vespers, explores themes of historical origins, looking at life “through the lens of death.” The Past collection utilizes five material combinations to emulate colors commonly found in cultural artifacts. The second sub-series, “Present,” looks at the transition between life and death, examining the progression from the first sub-series to the third. Physically, the 3D printed Present masks exhibit volumetric material distributions housed within transparent, smoothly curved dome-like structures. “Future,” the final sub-series, attempts to embody the concept of rebirth, with the engineers guiding living microorganisms through minute spatial features of the artifacts.

“The New Ancient collection marries ancient crafts and designs of past civilizations with advanced technologies to reimagine design in and of the modern world,” said Naomi Kaempfer, Creative Director of Art Fashion Design at Stratasys. “Oxman, along with her team, is amongst a number of leading designers who have contributed to the creation of the collection, including Zaha Hadid, Nick Ervinck and Daniel Widrig. Oxman’s Vespers epitomize this theme, traversing between modern, cutting-edge technologies and historical crafts and artifacts.”

VESPERS, Mask 5, Series 2, 2016. Photo credit: Danielle van Zadelhoff

The Vespers masks were photographed by Belgian photographer Danielle van Zadelhoff, whose Chiaroscuro-heavy style of photography is reminiscent of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. The photographs therefore maintain the theme of timelessness present in the 3D printed masks themselves.

UK-based fans of Oxman’s work can see the new collection at the Fear and Love exhibition at London’s Design Museum from November 24, 2016 until April 23, 2017.

 

 

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