This is a detailed 3D scan of a rock. It's also an opportunity to print a rock for your own project while participating in the creation of an artwork.
I am an artist interested in tactility, processes of translation, and continuities between the physical and virtual realms, nature and culture. I took a rock from my garden, scanned it, and am now releasing it into the digital commons to see what it might become.
You might like to use it in some way for your project. By all means print it, translate it into something else, scale it up or down, incorporate it into something you're making. If you're a teacher you might even choose to use this in a class project (lesson plan below). It's no longer under my control. I'd like to think that the artwork I'm initiating will exist as a constellation of translations of my original rock dispersed across space and time and across physical and virtual realms. There might also be interesting discussion about this and about what art can be.
Please share your makes. I'd love to see them and the records you upload will become evidence of the artwork as it evolves.
You can view this artwork, Nebula, as part of the online exhibition Semantic Formatting
Files included for high and medium resolution
Please recycle waste where possible.
This is a 3D scan of a rock from my garden near the Eyre river, just north of Christchurch, New Zealand. It was scanned by Don Clucas using equipment provided by the Department of Mechanical Engineering Advanced Design and Manufacturing Lab at the University of Canterbury.
Here are some photographs of the 3D scanning process:
The Kreon scanner is anchored to the floor and has sensors in its mobile arm that detect the exact posion of the scanner head in space. This allows each consecutive scan to be automatically aligned with the previous one to build up an accurate map of the rock's form.
Here you can see Don scanning the green laser beam over the rock's surface in overlapping vertical passes. Scanning only takes a few minutes but checking the model for holes, repairing them and processing the files is more time-consuming.
Afterwards another type of scanner was used to capture files for a future project.This smaller Artec scanner flashes a strobe light and takes a series of photographs which have to be manually matched up afterwards. Its resolution is lower but it captures the surface colour and texture of the rock as well as its form.
Overview and Background
This creative activity encourages students to make a personal project or artwork that is part of a wider context, and to discuss the implications.
Lesson Plan and Activity
This activity aims:
- To stimulate students' imaginations.
- To allow them to create something which will become part of a collectively-made global artwork.
- To encourage students to think in a wider sense about their contribution to the world and what art is, or might be.
- A 3D printer and filament.
- If you choose to modify the file digitally: software capable of editing an stl file, such as
- If you choose to modify the print physically: hand tools, and art materials such as glue, paint, wood, wire, string and plaster.
- Share the story of this rock and the wider artwork.
- Show students the photographs above, relating to the scanning of the rock.
- Encourage each student to modify their rock either digitally (before 3D printing) or physically (after printing) in any way they choose.
- Students might like to add to the rock, transform it, scale it, distort it, incorporate it into a model or scene, or make something functional from it.
- Photograph each creation and Post a Make at the top of this page. If possible include where you are in the world.
- Follow the Makes link (which will appear below) to look at what other people around the world have made.
- View the artwork as part of the Semantic Formatting exhibition.
Points for Discussion
- What makes a 'thing' an artwork?
- Does an artwork have to all be in one location or exist in its entirety at one moment in time?
- Can multiple objects made by multiple makers be an artwork?
- What makes an artwork authentic?
- How does digital distribution affect authenticity?
- How does translating and transforming the rock multiple times affect its meaning?
- Does being part of the creation of a larger artwork make your own work feel more significant? Why or why not?
- What is a nebula?
- critical thinking
- 3D visualisation
- digital literacy
A minimum of 2-3 hours including printing, depending on what you choose to do.
Read through this page and assemble the necessary equipment.
Rubric and Assessment
Students don't always need to be formally assessed. If your class has enjoyed engaging with this project and discussion has involved critical thinking then the project has been successful.
From my perspective, I find the idea of initiating this kind of work interesting. The more I see downloads, makes and comments, the more I will know that the work is growing and this will be a measure of its success.
Thanks to Don Clucas for scanning the rock and the Department of Mechanical Engineering Advanced Design and Manufacturing Lab at the University of Canterbury for providing the equipment.