EPLVLEREPRAETERITORVM: 3D Printing Pulls a Dead Language from the Dust

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EPLVLEREPRAETERITORVM.

No, it’s not the latest incantation to be uttered by the great Harry Potter or a snippet of mischievious Middle-Earth Elven (or even a Klingon curse), although it is a phrase that no native tongue shall ever utter again. It is the name of a piece created by artist Anna Nazo and translated into English from Latin meaning: ‘From the Dust of the Past.’

annanazo1_2xAs if the title of the work isn’t eerie enough, the video accompanying the piece lies somewhere between the Blair Witch Project and The Others. Watching the video is a bit like eavesdropping on a conversation in a foreign language, but one in which all of the words are recognizable, it is just their particular meaning that is obscure.

Nazo explored the alphabet as a carrier of significance, a set of symbols that act to encode our thoughts so that they can be transmitted to others. The Latin alphabet, while still robustly in use, is the set of coding symbols developed for a tongue that has turned to ashes. Arising from the dust of a ProJet 660 Pro 3D printer, the letters were built up in layers, just as language is. The completion of the letters could be akin to the death of a language as they can no longer change, and once a language becomes static, it quickly becomes obsolete.

dsfw_2xHowever, in this case, Nazo has injected a bit of life back into the letters, at least offering a glimpse of their former glory. Working with an ancient language expert, she made recordings of the pronunciation of the letters as they would have been said at the beginning of the 2nd century CE–specifically around the year 113. She used the sound waves to distort the forms of the characters giving them the appearance of near movement. The tension created by the instability of their forms brings a dynamism enhanced by the half-seen forms and the mysterious movements of the artist as she works with the printed letters.

The distortion was applied to the X, Y, and Z axes giving the letters a truly 3-dimensional form, rather than simply a modified shape. Nazo, who is no stranger to 3D printing and to advanced digital production, has been recognized as an up-and-coming force in the contemporary art world. She worked towards a degree in Information Science and Computer Engineering at Ryazan State Radio Engineering University (Ryazan, Russia) before moving to the Moscow State Stroganoff University of Design and Applied Arts where she received an integrated BA/MA in Spatial Design. In 2014, she completed an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins (London, UK).

Nazo_Anna_Stalactites_stage_I_screenshot_film_1340_cShe brought the skills developed there and over the past decade of her artistic exploration to bear in this project using 3D Studio Max to give digital form to the 2-dimensional letters and the 3D printer to bring them into being. The powder prints were created via iMakr.

While the name of the exhibit doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I have to admit that it is hard to get it out my mind.

Let us know what you think of this unique take on language in the 3D Printed Latin forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

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