May 5, 2017 | By Tess

The digital conservation movement, which seeks to capture artifacts and monuments (often using 3D scanning technology), is growing quickly across the world. In the Middle East, efforts such as #NEWPALMYRA are using advanced technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing to digitize and effectively preserve cultural structures that have either already been destroyed or are under threat of destruction.

And while digital conservation has seen a critical surge in certain conflict areas, the technology is also being used elsewhere. In Japan, for instance, researchers from the Chiba University have been using 3D scanning to capture 3D models of Buddhist statues and other cultural artiffacts. The effort, which is being done primarily to preserve the objects in case of deterioration or theft, is also serving a touristic purpose.

According to the researchers, some local communities are using the 3D models to make miniature models of the Buddhist statues, which are then sold as special charms to tourists, and some artists are using the models to make specialty jewelry and mementos.

The preservation initiative was started by Professor Akira Ueda from Chiba University’s graduate school of engineering in 2013. At the time, Ueda reached out to a number of temples and shrines to see if they’d be interested in having their landmarks preserved digitally. At the sign of interest, Ueda’s team brought a portable 3D scanner to 10 sites (including the Kyodo Shiryokan local history museum in Kamogawa), where it proceeded to capture the 3D data of roughly 40 different pieces.

Scanned objects consisted of a number of Buddhist statues and wood carvings, including the Komatsuji temple’s Kisshoten and Bishamonten statues, and the famous “A” woodcarving, originally made by famous Japanese sculptor Yoshimitsu Goto.

"The data could also be useful for preservation, repairs, and restoration of cultural assets," explained Hironobu Aoki, a doctoral student working on the digital preservation project. "I hope more people become aware that such endeavours are under way, so we can collect even more data.”

In Minamiboso (located in southern Chiba Prefecture), the Komatsuji temple has been standing for roughly 1,300 years. Now, thanks to scanning and 3D printing technologies, the temple is offering tourists small 3D printed replicas of its famous Kisshoten and Bishamonten statues, which date back as far as the Heian period from 794 to the late 12th century.

(Images: Yomiuri Shimbun)

The small reproductions, which measure about 2.5 centimeters in height and are packaged in small pouches made from Japanese cotton, are being sold on special occasions at the temple, such as “dedicated viewings” of the Buddhist statues.

Artist Hiroshi Deguchi, who specializes in metalworking and engraving, has also benefited from the 3D reproductions of Japanese artifacts, as he has been producing silver jewelry based on the “A” woodcarving. The original piece, which was created by Yoshimitsu Goto during the early modern period, is a lion woodcarving that stands at the Konrenin temple in Tateyama.

The original woodcarving is quite large, with dimensions of 31 cm in height, 48 cm in width, and 31 cm in depth. For his jewelry, however, Deguchi has scaled down the 3D model significantly (to about 3 cm in width). In making his pieces, the artist first 3D printed a miniature model of the lion and proceeded to make a casting mold with it. With the mold, Deguchi was able to make small silver charms for bracelets, pendants, and rings.

Recently, an exhibition held at the local history museum in Kamogawa displayed a collection of woodcarvings from the Awa region (where the “A” carving comes from) and juxtaposed the originals with their 3D printed counterparts. Visitors of the exhibit also got the chance to see Deguchi’s silver jewelry based on the 3D prints.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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