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Remixing Renaissance art with help from a 3D scanner

Emily Price

Some of the world's oldest art is getting a bit of a facelift. Brooklyn artist Barry X Ball has developed a way to recreate Renaissance-era sculptures using 3D scanning. Rather than printing duplicates, Ball takes the statues "to the next level," by adding on to them. In some cases that means finishing details in the way he thinks the original artist intended, and in others he's looking to make something completely new. For instance, in one of his sculptures he replaced the roughed out head of Jesus in a famous Michelangelo sculpture with the original artist's head, a tribute to him since he died a few days after carving it.

Each piece starts with a scan made up of 400 individual 3D pictures of a particular work. Ball tweaks the computer file, meticulously adds on to it and then has it printed out of stone or marble. That's a lot of steps, however, his work is far from over. The intricate printing process for a sculpture could take up to a month to complete. Once it's done, the team then carves smaller details into the final product by hand (no small task), completing the piece. The end result is a new 21st century masterpiece our ancestors might try to recreate in another 500 years.

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