Artists Put Online 3D, High Resolution Scans of 3,000-Year-Old Nefertiti Bust (and Controversy Ensues)


Image by Jesús Gor­ri­ti, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

Last Octo­ber, two artists, Nora al-Badri and Jan Niko­lai Nelles, paid a vis­it to the Neues Muse­um in Berlin and–so the sto­ry goes–scanned the 3,000-year-old bust of Nefer­ti­ti using a hid­den Kinect motion sen­sor. The result­ing 3D scans lat­er became avail­able to the world on a web­site called “Nefer­ti­ti Hack,” with the fol­low­ing pref­ace.

From today on every­body around the world can access, study, print or remix a 3D dataset of Nefer­ti­ti’s head in high res­o­lu­tion. This data is acces­si­ble under a pub­lic domain with­out any charge, this tor­rent pro­vides you a STL-file (100 MB)…

“Nefer­ti­ti Hack” goes on to say: “ ‘The Oth­er Nefer­ti­ti’ is an artis­tic inter­ven­tion by the two Ger­man artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Niko­lai Nelles. Al-Badri and Nelles scanned the head of Nefer­ti­ti clan­des­tine­ly in the Neues Muse­um Berlin with­out per­mis­sion of the Muse­um and they here­by announce the release of the 3D data of Nefer­ti­ti’s head under a Cre­ative Com­mons Licence.… With regard to the notion of belong­ing and pos­ses­sion of objects of oth­er cul­tures, the artists’ inten­tion is to make cul­tur­al objects pub­licly acces­si­ble.”

As if not already con­tro­ver­sial, this act of artis­tic vig­i­lan­tism recent­ly became more con­tentious when 3D scan­ning experts start­ed ques­tion­ing whether Al-Badri and Nelles could have pro­duced such high qual­i­ty scans with a Kinect hid­den under a jack­et (shown on a video here). It seems implau­si­ble, they say. And it has left some won­der­ing, writes The New York Times, whether Al-Badri and Nelles “some­how acquired the museum’s own scan of the bust, scanned a high-qual­i­ty copy or pro­duced the scan by some oth­er means.” The answer is not yet clear.

In the mean­time, accord­ing to Hyper­al­ler­gic, the artists them­selves used their scans “to cre­ate a 3D-print­ed, one-to-one poly­mer resin mod­el” of the Nefer­ti­ti bust, which, they claim, “is the most pre­cise repli­ca of the bust ever made.” And that bust “will reside per­ma­nent­ly in the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Cairo lat­er this year as a stand-in for the orig­i­nal, 3,300-year-old work that was removed from its coun­try of ori­gin short­ly after its dis­cov­ery in 1912 by Ger­man archae­ol­o­gists in Amar­na.”

If there are updates to the sto­ry, I am sure Hyper­al­ler­gic will have them.

via New York Times/Hyper­al­ler­gic

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