Neri Oxman and Stratasys Team Up to Bring Death Masks to Life Through 3D Printing

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stratasys-3Neri Oxman, the leader of the Mediated Matter research group at MIT, is an American-Israeli architect, designer, and professor whose work combines design, biology, computing, and materials engineering. She developed the term ‘material ecology’ to describe the way the she works to mold materials in a context inspired by nature. She has regularly utilized 3D printing technology to bring her visions to life, and we’ve covered many of them in the past. The unique nature of her groundbreaking work has garnered her a significant amount of attention and has earned spots in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Boston Museum of Science.

VESPERS, Mask 3, Series 2, 2016. Designed by Neri Oxman and her team as part of "The New Ancient" Collection by STRATASYS and 3D Printed on a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer. Photo credit: Yoram Reshef

VESPERS, Mask 3, Series 2, 2016. [Image: Yoram Reshef]

If you are in London and are lucky enough to attend the grand reopening of their Design Museum next week, you will get to see some of Oxman’s most recent work as part of a collection titled The New Ancient. The collection has pieces in it created by Zaha Hadid, Nick Ervink, and Daniel Widrig, among others. For the exhibit, Oxman has created Vespers, a series of 3D printed death masks created on a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Multi-material 3D printer.

Rather than being masks that are created to capture the topography of an individual human face, Oxman has worked to design pieces that evoke the abstract ideas of cultural heritage and to cause speculation about the meaning and continuation of both cultural and biological life.

Vespers’ designs are entirely data driven, digitally generated, 3D printed, and – at times – biologically augmented,” explained Oxman. “By pushing the boundaries of cusp technologies – such as high-resolution material modeling, full color multi-material 3D printing, and synthetic biology – they express the death masks’ deeper meanings and possible future use, thus bringing it back to life.”

VESPERS, Mask 5, Series 2, 2016. Designed by Neri Oxman and her team as part of "The New Ancient" Collection by STRATASYS and 3D Printed on a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer. Photo credit: Danielle van Zadelhoff

VESPERS, Mask 5, Series 2, 2016. [Image: Danielle van Zadelhoff]

The collection is further divided into three subseries, ‘Past,’ ‘Present,’ and ‘Future.’ The ‘Past’ series examines ancient life and its origins, evoking the colors, textures, and forms of ancient expressions, through artifacts of death. ‘Present’ focuses on the transitional space between life and death while ‘Future’ is filled with images of rebirth.

Naomi Kaempfer, the Creative Director of Art Fashion Design at Stratasys, described the project and Oxman’s contribution:

The New Ancient collection marries ancient crafts and designs of past civilizations with advanced technologies to reimagine design in and of the modern world. Oxman, along with her team, is amongst a number of leading designers who have contributed to the creation of the collection…Oxman’s Vespers epitomize this theme, traversing between modern, cutting-edge technologies and historical crafts and artefacts.”

Without the technological capability of the machines provided by Stratasys, creating the textures and forms of these masks would have been nearly impossible. In this way, the very process mimics the idea behind their creation: the complementary process of nature and culture which sustains the (re)production of human culture. Discuss in the Neri Oxman forum at 3DPB.com.

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VESPERS, Mask 1, Series 1, 2016. [Image: Danielle van Zadelhoff]

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