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Scan The World Interviews Talented Contemporary Artist
We are constantly reminded of the many use cases that open digital collections can provide. Scan the World's wunderkammer of 3D printable cultural artefacts has attracted an incredible community of creatives, including the exciting work of Zachary Eastwood-Bloom.
We have been following Zac's work for a few years, since his early remixes of heritage artefacts using new technologies. We decided to sit down with him, ask a few questions about his practice and learn how Scan the World and the digitization of cultural heritage has influenced his work so far.
About Zac Eastwood-Bloom and his profession as an artist
I am an artist who has a fascination with human progress in terms of technology, but there is the fact that we’re still just human, so I make art exploring that. We’re continually trying to rationalize our world and we use a number of devices to do that such as science, religion, mythology and there are various social narratives that are generated from these strategies.
Principally I make sculpture, but also video, dance, sound and photographic works and drawings. I am particularly interested in how the ancient Greeks used storytelling and mythology as a way of rationalizing their world but also how we reshape these stories and characters to our own framework.
Recent 3D sculpting commissions
Two recent projects have both come from residencies, one with the Pangolin Bronze Foundry and the other with the Scottish Ballet.
I was introduced to Scan the World when I was developing the body of work I made with the foundry. I had previously been making sculptures using some 3D scans that I had taken myself from places like the Royal Academy in London, but with this particular project, I had a theme in mind which would have meant scanning sculptures from all over the world which wasn’t practical for me at the time.
Scan the World had most of the sculptures I wanted to work with, or it had scans that sat within my conceptual theme. The resulting body of work, ‘Divine Principals’ was made using digital models of Hellenic gods that represent the planets of the solar system. I then digitally distorted them in digital modeling software using images of their own planets. So, for example, the god Mars was distorted using satellite imagery of the planet Mars. I did this for the whole Solar System, including Pluto, which I still consider to be a planet.
These sculptures were then 3D printed before being cast in either bronze, Iron, Silver or carved in marble. Each sculpture became representative of how an idea can change over time and how we justify the universe and our place in it. They embody different belief systems; part science and part myth, asking which is your truth?
During a 10-month residency within the Scottish Ballet, I continued to explore mythological ideas, this time using motion capture to digitize the movement of the dancers and augment it with digital visuals. From this, I developed ‘Technology//Mythology//Allegory’ which was launched during the Scottish Ballet’s ‘Digital Season’ 2019.
The culmination of the project was three films, ‘The Three Graces’, ‘Prometheus & Epimetheus’ and ‘The Fates’, each of which was a collaboration between me and different choreographers and musicians.
The project uses Greek mythological characters and stories to explores different aspects of digital culture such as digital autonomy, control, beauty, artifice, façade and the forethought and afterthought of scientific and technological progress. Whilst I didn’t directly use Scan the World model in the final works, I did use them as references, particularly for ‘The Three Graces’.
What Open Heritage Data and Scan the World mean for Contemporary Art
Whilst much of my work is looking at contemporary aspects of life, I use a lot of historical or mythological characters to help open up topics or ideas. ‘Scan the World’ has helped me do this by having the models of sculptures and statues that I am looking for or introduced me to sculptures, artists and collections that I have not previously known about.
For me, it is educational. One of the central practices of Western European arts education for over the last 500 years is learning from the ‘Classical Ideal’. From the Renaissance to the 19th Century, classical sculptures provided artists with models from which they could learn how to represent the volumes, poses, proportions and expressions of the human figure. I think ‘Scan the World’ is doing this in a digital age.
Zac’s favorite 3D models on Scan the World
It’s a tough choice, there are quite a few. It is either ‘Apollo Belvedere’, Giambologna’s ‘Abduction of the Sabine Women’, ‘Laocoon and His Sons’ (an absolute classic!) or my all-time favorite sculpture Cellini’s ‘Perseus with the Head of Medusa’, although the Scan the World one isn’t the same as the original in Florence. All these sculptures are superbly composed, posed and full of emotion, they’re beautiful.
Be sure to continue following Zac’s work, and expect to see some of his creations appear on Scan the World soon!
Zac’s website: www.zacharyeastwood-bloom.com
Zac’s Instagram: instagram.com/zac_eastwood_bloom/