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AMS Spring 2023

3D Printing Your Heart of Gold via a CT Scan

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It’s probably not quite what Neil Young had in mind, but Canadian artist Brendon McNaughton has a heart of gold. Or at least, after seeing the possibilities for 3D printing available at Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio, he wants to print one.

Heart-of-Gold-FrontMcNaughton’s idea is that clients would commission him to create an artistic heart from a CT scan of their actual living, breathing organ. Each heart would then be covered in 22 Carat gold and be larger than life. This is the ultimate in the personalization that we have seen offered through the medium of 3D printing.

To create these custom printed hearts, McNaughton uses Objex’s ProJet 6000 Stereolithography printer. The precision of this particular machine allows for a high level of detail all while maintaining a smooth surface finish. The final object is then also able to withstand the further handling as the gold leaf is applied.

In a time when everything is being mass-produced and the choices for consumer are from among a sea of monotonous similarities, there is a nearly desperate search for the individual and the authentic. In this object there is what McNaughton is calling “a portrait of contemporary market oriented cultures.” There is nothing to this work other than its very availability for purchase. That isn’t to say that there isn’t any artistry to the creation, but rather that its reason for existence in any particular form is the result of a desire to purchase yet another image of self.

In this piece, there is a meeting of two somewhat miraculous machines. The one, the engine of survival for the human body, the other creating form out of seemingly thin air. Despite the in depth understanding of the technologies of both, neither have lost their appeal and they both represent nearly everything that can be said about humankind.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 3.40.11 PMThe heart, symbolic seat of love, kindness, compassion, friendship, and faith here meets a creation of the rational mind and is, in fact, actually produced by this rational creation. The desire to own such a piece? Well, something from the heart, most likely. The symbolism can get as thick as you’d like it.

McNaughton’s previous work has allowed him to explore the ideas of class and status and this piece is no different. If one human is simply the same as another, how can we justify the incredible economic distinctions made among them? Do those who have the ability to spend money on a portrait of their heart actually have hearts worthy of such a creation? In an age of incomplete Nihilism, the idea of purchasing such an object while others starve might cause a pang in the breasts of those whose hearts are more metaphorically made of gold.

Isn’t this all just a tad narcissistic?

Well, of course – but really that’s part of the point. It’s a post-modern point, though, in that the person purchasing the heart might not have gotten the joke, but that doesn’t mean that the artist isn’t laughing. Would you consider having your heart printed in gold?  Let’s hear your thoughts about these creations.  Discuss in the 3D Printed Heart of Gold forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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