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Head of a horse of Selene

by CosmoWenman, published

Head of a horse of Selene by CosmoWenman Oct 18, 2012

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Description

From the British Museum's Parthenon collection

Scanned by Cosmo Wenman. For more photos, descriptions of my reinventions, and info, go to cosmowenman.com

Head of a horse of Selene
Acropolis, Athens, 438-432 BC
From the east pediment of the Parthenon

Scanned from the original marble in the British Museum August 2012 by Cosmo Wenman, using AutoDesk 123D Catch.

Edited for printing using Blender and Netfabb Studio Basic.

Printed life size in PLA on a MakerBot Replicator.

Finshed in Epic Bronze with Alternate Reality Patinas. alternaterealitypatinas.com

Model published into the public domain October 2012.

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I made these pieces in an attempt to show that, with the right finishes and attention to detail, 3D printers can produce objects of art worthy of public and private display. Not just miniature figurines, or toys, or practical household objects, and not just prototypes. They can do more than evoke the desired object, they can be objects of desire.

But I chose these subjects in particular — elemental, archetypal museum pieces — to try to advance a different but complementary idea; that with 3D scanning and 3D printing, private collectors and museums have an unprecedented opportunity to recast themselves as living engines of cultural creation. They can digitize their three dimensional collections and project them outward into the public realm to be adapted, multiplied, and remixed.

They should do this because the best place to celebrate great art is in a vibrant, lively, and anarchic popular culture. The world's back catalog of art should be set free to run wild in our visual, and now tactile, landscape, and whether it turns up lit in pixels on our screens, rematerialized in our living rooms, or embedded in our architecture or clothing, it's all to the good.

And for forward-thinking, innovative institutions and collectors, and for everyone involved in this young industry, there's prestige, money, value, meaning, and beauty to be made in making it a reality.

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From the British Museum:

"One of the best loved sculptures from the Parthenon
The east pediment of the Parthenon shows the birth of the goddess Athena from the head of her father Zeus. The event was witnessed by various figures shown on either side and filling the triangular space of the gable end of the temple. In the very corners of this triangle, the time of day was set by the chariot of Helios, god of the sun, rising at dawn, and the chariot of Selene, the Moon goddess, sinking beneath the horizon. Selene's torso is in Athens, while the head of one of her team of horses is in the British Museum.

This is perhaps the most famous and best loved of all the sculptures of the Parthenon. It captures the very essence of the stress felt by a beast that has spent the night drawing the chariot of the Moon across the sky. As the unseen vehicle was shown sinking low in the west, the horse pins back its ears, the jaw gapes, the nostrils flare, the eyes bulge, veins stand out and the flesh seems spare and taut over the flat plate of the cheek bone." - bit.ly/gy7A4S

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I've seen a few references which state that plaster casts of this sculpture were extremely popular in the 19th century, but I haven't found any contemporaneous sources for that claim. But I can believe it - it is extremely expressive, and stirring in person, and I hope my reproduction captures and transmits at least some of that.

I find David Hockney's theories on the precocious use of lenses in Renaissance art very compelling. But living with this damned horse on my screen, and then in my house, for the last two months, it's hard to imagine how the original could have been designed two millenia ago without photography, let alone lenses. Its expression is so exacting, just an instant in time, I can't see how it could be modeled by eye from a live horse, or even a dead one. Maybe a contour gauge on a carcass with rigor mortis, but I don't see that either, not with this expressiveness and movement.

I imagine a Greek guy walking around 2,000 years ago with a camera obscura with some kind of light sensitive papyrus inside, trying to raise funds to get his light enscribing machine into mass production. Alas, there was no Kickstarter back then.

Or, maybe the artist and horse in bright sunlight, the artist covering his eyes. The horse's handler startles it into motion, and the artist opens his eyes for an instant, closes them again, then draws quickly with his eyes shut while the image fades in his retinas - the lens, film, and darkroom being his eyes... I dunno - either that or weeks of careful study, scores of sketches of impressions of a horse in motion, composited into this exacting model. But that doesn't sound like as much fun.

[Clarification: I don't *really* think ancient Greeks had cameras. I was just having some fun, and if my comments are taken as expressing anything other than admiration of the original artistry, then they're being misread. Or I miswrote them. Or something. Hi BoingBoing!]

(Yes, I'm aware that this is the kind of amateur analysis that is going to bust loose over the next couple years with more direct, popular access to these kinds of forms, and that it may cause many academics and curators to completely lose their minds. Just wait until the ancient aliens theorists get hold of this stuff. It's gonna be great!)

Based on all the information I could find, and on my own measurements, I've sized the model at 83cm long, measured along its longest length. I believe this is 1:1 with the museum's marble, but I'd have to put a measuring tape on the original to be certain, and I'm sure that would just get me yelled at...

The loose .stl file is of the entire horse head, "decimated" by 50% so its file size is more managable. One of the .zip files contains the full resolution model, which has over 1 million triangles, which may be overkill - but that's how I roll :) The other .zip file contains the hi res model broken into 29 printable blocks, many of which are pretty large prints.

I printed the pieces in PLA, hollow, 4 shells thick, and with .28mm layer heights, and it took many days of continuous printing. I can't even remember how many days it took, and I can barely remember the days it took to bronze and patina it - it's all a blur.

I'm working on a way to make these metalized patina finishes easily available, and easy to use. Look for Alternate Reality Patinas, AlternateRealityPatinas.com soon.

Cosmo Wenman
cosmowenman.com
twitter.com/cosmowenman

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Recent Comments

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thanks for the input, will see if I can figure it out

One of these days I'll do a complete write-up or video of the process: Using Blender, pose and edit your model, and scale it to the correct size. Then arrange cubes contiguously over it that are sized to your printer's build volume. Use the Boolean "intersect" modifier to merge and convert each print-area block into a printable segment of the model.

very nice work, what did you use to slice the project up to insure you got proper fitting parts

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Because these are large pieces, the slightest warping makes for big misalignments; assembling the pieces is no small task. If I were to print it again, I would recut the model into less block-like pieces - more like shells - and print them a bit thicker. At only four walls thick, the model's larger, flatter exterior walls are very sensitive to temperature - it can't be left in direct sunlight.

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in4sit4u on Apr 1, 2013 said:

very nice work, what did you use to slice the project up to insure you got proper fitting parts

CosmoWenman on Apr 2, 2013 said:

One of these days I'll do a complete write-up or video of the process: Using Blender, pose and edit your model, and scale it to the correct size. Then arrange cubes contiguously over it that are sized to your printer's build volume. Use the Boolean "intersect" modifier to merge and convert each print-area block into a printable segment of the model.

trobok on Nov 1, 2012 said:

Beautiful work, looking forward to hearing more about Alternate Reality Patinas ;)

akaziuna on Oct 24, 2012 said:

How did you assemble the parts before finishing?  Did you use an adhesive or just heat?

theotocopulitos on Oct 24, 2012 said:

Hi. Did you consider making "puzzle" like (sorry, I do not know the proper terminlology in English) to help matching the pieces, instead of flat surfaces?

CosmoWenman on Nov 19, 2012 said:

If you look at my other piece, the Alexander Portraits (http://www.thingiverse.com/thi..., I cut some zig-zags in some of those pieces to help line them up with each other more easily during assembly. Doing so can allow you to conceal joints, or break them up visually, but adds a lot of work to the onscreen design task. It also winds up wasting build volume capacity - you get smaller pieces, as their extents overlap - and requires more pieces.

On this large piece, because there were so many pieces, I just made all the joints straight lines.

martin on Oct 23, 2012 said:

Thanks for showing the head in London and thanks for sharing the file! A stunning piece.

Timboom on Oct 22, 2012 said:

Wow, just wow.

StIzZo on Oct 21, 2012 said:

One of my first questions at 3dprintshow, when this model will be available on thingiverse ?   thank you :)

techknight on Oct 21, 2012 said:

So.. Basically this is the best thing ever.

MrRicketts on Oct 21, 2012 said:

Brilliant, well done. Truly a wonderful project, and one that my students will try to replicate. Thank-you again. 
Also how much plastic did you use and why not ABS?

CosmoWenman on Nov 19, 2012 said:

 I didn't track the amount of material used, but I think it was between 3 and 4 kilos of PLA. I used PLA because it does not split on larger prints (Larger ABS objects crack and pull themselves apart as they cool.)

erratic on Oct 21, 2012 said:

what kind of faux bronze and patina process/materials did you use?  came out great!

CosmoWenman on Nov 19, 2012 said:

Thanks. I used Alternate Reality Patinas - http://www.alternaterealitypat... - Coming soon!

CosmoWenman on Nov 19, 2012 said:

Thanks. I used Alternate Reality Patinas - http://www.AlternateRealityPat... - coming soon!

cyclone on Oct 20, 2012 said:

tI would be interesting if someone would/could make a higher temp PLA. I've had a few things go squiggly left in a car for too long.

CosmoWenman on Nov 19, 2012 said:

I made a set of PLA surfboard fins that I ruined by leaving in my car's glove compartment.

Also, don't work with PLA in the sun either - at least not thin-walled pieces. I learned this the very hard way.

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