As we work our way through the themes of the course, most recently encountering 3D artifacts, I am continually interested in the idea of authenticity. If our theory course has taught me anything, it’s that the staggering human propensity for imposing order is surpassed only by the actual complexity of things, which undermines our attempts at coherence and comprehensiveness the more we pay attention to what’s actually going on “in the seams.”
In the interest of exposing my paradata, I explored the topic of authenticity further by searching “3D printed artifacts authenticity” into Google News, which returned an article on an artist deliberately distorting artifacts in museum collections to “imagine” artifacts of her own design.
It’s an interesting and contrary impulse to the readings on 3D printing for analytical purposes, which seek ever finer and closer reproductions of the original models. Even as we approximate “accuracy” in 3D models with analytical intent, the readings make clear that there is interpretation, modification, and smoothing in the production of this knowledge. I see value in ever finer levels of accuracy in the models, but I do wonder if we will reach a level of approximationm (or "authenticity") that causes us to overlook, forget, or disregard the fact these are reproductions with some (however small) level of imagining. By contrast, the artist in this article indulges the imaginative component of her work, even exaggerating it. I’m not suggesting archaeologists pursue this in interpretation, but rather recognize imagining is its own kind of paradata.
I’m interested in your perspectives on this; acknowledging the benefits of 3D printing and modelling for analytical purposes (much less “engagement” purposes) is there a danger in getting too close to reproduction?
Afterthought: alternatively, perhaps in time we will reach the 3D printed version of the Uncanny Valley and be weirded out instead!