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Camden residents invited to get themselves scanned and printed in 3D

11:00 28 February 2014

Cllr Tulip Siddiq becomes Camden's latest artwork to be scanned in 3D at Swiss Cottage Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Cllr Tulip Siddiq becomes Camden's latest artwork to be scanned in 3D at Swiss Cottage Library. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Residents have been invited to have themselves digitally scanned in 3D as part of an innovative project allowing people to download and print sculptures from Camden Council’s art collection.

Tech experts armed with state-of-the-art scanning gadgets have taken up residence in Swiss Cottage Library as pieces from the borough’s 750-strong art collection are scanned and recreated in 3D.

Inviting members of the public to join in and get their own busts scanned and reproduced, an online catalogue of the work will eventually allow art lovers to download and even print pieces in 3D.

Organisers hope the unique project will re-establish for the 21st century a long-forgotten service that allowed members of the public to take pieces of art out on loan for free.

Up until the 1990s, library card holders were able to transform their homes into a den of culture, exhibiting borrowed work by David Hockney, Derek Jarman or Sandra Blow.

Sophie Ignatieff, co-ordinator at the council’s arts and tourism office, said that while reinstating the art loaning service today would be “an insurance nightmare”, this new project is the next best thing.

“It offers the public new ways to engage with the art collection,” she said.

“You can download the 3D scans of the sculptures onto your computer, see it in full three dimensions, manipulate it to create your own pieces of art and, if you own a 3D printer, even print out your own copy to display at home.

“It doesn’t replace the feel of an art gallery, but it does open the artwork to the public.”

3D printers have been described as the “next revolution in manufacturing”, allowing individuals to design and print their own objects from the comfort of their own home.

Using digital scans, the machines recreate objects by “printing” successive layers of material on top of themselves. They even produce their own glue and colour.

Hercules Fisherman from 3D Scanbot – the company spearheading the council’s project – said it was a “revolutionary” technology for the art world.

“Artists and sculptors like myself are using the technology and art schools are starting to catch on,” he said.

“It won’t be long before all our homes have a 3D printer.

“The costs are coming down and they’re becoming very affordable – it’s the next revolution in manufacturing.

“They’ll not only allow you to print out sculptures like the ones we have on display here, but also spare parts for household equipment, your own designs – the list is endless.”

Seeing the revolution first-hand at Swiss Cottage Library last Thursday was Cllr Tulip Siddiq, Camden cabinet member for culture and communities, who watched herself being digitally recreated in 3D.

“This is certainly something different for our library – it’s very cool,” she said.

“The tradition of libraries just being seen as places where you take out books is disappearing. They’re now spaces to promote all types of creativity.

“But I have to say, it’s a bit odd seeing myself as a 3D model. It was a strange experience.”

The 3D profile of Cllr Siddiq will also be added to the council’s online catalogue, allowing residents to download, manipulate and print her image.

n The library will be hosting its next 3D scanning day from 10.30am to 5pm on Saturday, March 8 and Friday, March 21.

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