A close up of the 3-D scanned replicant artist Lorna Barnshaw likens to a death mask. "There are a few inaccuracies due to the scanners need for complete and utter stillness and the natural inability to do so," she says.

Barnshaw named her sculptures Replicants in honor of Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. The sculptures are all hairless as the software Barnshaw used failed to understand follicles.

Barnshaw mounted her self-portraits in wire frames resembling a 3-D axis for her degree show. The replicants rolled around the floor during the exhibition.

Barnshaw's tryptic of 3-D printed sculptures using Cubify (left), 3-D scanning (center) and 123D Catch (right)--an AutoDesk software program that stitches 40 photos together.

"My final project was actually the combination of two projects," says Barnshaw. "One being the replicants and the other being an installation of huge panoramic images combined with augmented reality."

Barnshaw loves the shapeless, ballooned surface of the 123D Catch replicant.

"123D Catch created one of the most interesting results: curved, contorted, stretched, and fractured in all directions," says Barnshaw. "The app requires a patterned background for the results to work best and it struggled to define and stitch effectively."

"The main issue was making the digital replicants structurally sound for the printing process," says Barnshaw. Once designed, each replicant took about six hours to print.

The abstract and fragmented replicant created using Cubify video software reminds Barnshaw of artist Francis Bacon's work.

Due to the software's sensitivity to light, background, and angle changes, each replicant is completely unique. "I could keep on repeating the process endlessly and the replicant would be different every time," says Barnshaw.


The Replicants Are Coming: An Artist Creates Creepy 3-D Printed Faces

Art student Lorna Barnshaw combines human faces with an imperfect assortment of technology to create surreal replicants.

3-D printing her own face is all in a day's work for Lorna Barnshaw, a recent graduate from the Winchester School of Art in the UK—even if the results are creepy and slightly moldy looking. Her project—named replicants in honor of Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner—consists of three 3-D facial studies created using a mash-up of computer applications and printing methods.

"The replicants are distorted, some more than others, by the flaws in the technology used," Barnshaw tells us. "I wanted to play with digital’s ability to copy reality—to put reality through a digital filter and back into material existence." During production Barnshaw left her ghostly faces to print overnight, a process that took about six hours. "I recorded one printing with a total of 909 layers," she says. "The best part was watching the remnants being brushed away revealing the fragile, uncured replicants within." Barnshaw’s replicants blew the £500 budget for the 22-year-old’s graduation degree show, and took four months to design and create. For the final exhibition she stuck her 3-D heads inside metal rings that rolled and pivoted across the gallery space.

All the random holes, weird colors, and mangled replicant surfaces were created by unique weaknesses in the software and hardware combinations Barnshaw chose. A 3-D scanner created the most structurally accurate facial sculpture with a few structural inaccuracies due to slight movements during production. "The face is so defined it makes it the most surreal," says Barnshaw. "Like a death mask." She used 123D Catch—an AutoDesk software program that stitches 40 photos together and works best with patterned backgrounds—for her second, and favorite, replicant. "With the two (faces) on altering sides full of contortion and fragmentation there’s still a strong recognition of the human face," she says. "It’s just damn right bizarre and I love that."

Barnshaw created the final sculpture using a 360-degree headspin video on Cubify’s website. It reminds her of Francis Bacon’s work. "There is no real human face shape, just geometric forms, a large amount of background, two mouths and a hugely pixelated texture," she says.

Barnshaw found one pervasive flaw during the software design stage: the program's inability to comprehend hair or the back of a head. However the replicants got really freaky when she translated the digital renderings into structurally sound objects using programs including Cinema 4D, Blender, Zedit, and Zbrush."The digital objects had so many facets and points it was almost impossible to add thickness (to the physical objects) without adding any distortion," Barnshaw says. "I had to try countless file types and combinations to make sure the object and texture fitted together."

Barnshaw’s replicants aren't as human-like as Ridley Scott’s bioengineered beings from the '80s, and she couldn’t mass clone her replicants anytime soon, even if she wanted to. "The software changes drastically at the slightest condition change in background, lighting, and angles. I could keep on repeating the process endlessly and the replicant would be entirely different every time," she says. She’s already hidden her first batch of creepy 3-D self-portraits in a cupboard.

"They’re a little bit unnerving to have on the mantelpiece."

[Images courtesy of Lorna Barnshaw]

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