Balázs approached us a while ago about modelling scans. Following a short, yet successful run, he has decided that he would like to scan, and soon started sending wonderful scans from Budapest's cultural centres. We asked him a few questions to reveal his motivations and plans for 3D-related work in a cultural setup.
First, please tell us a little something about yourself.
I studied painting at the University of Pécs Visual Art Faculty. As an artist, I’ve always found that what attracts us to culture is a physical connection. It might be the stone with sculpting, the layers of paint, the smell and touch and sight of the materials that are used to create anything, really. Materials allow for expression and drive a lot of artists, including the contemporaries. My main concern is that the demand for contemporary art has dropped. People lose interest and money is an issue - buying art can be expensive and creating it even more so. In Budapest, for example, and even in Hungary in general, I keep seeing the same artists again and again, at all the exhibitions, all the events, it’s always the same group of people. It is hard to reach out to the world, but that’s where 3D could come in.
Talking about 3D, what is your relationship to it, how did you get to it?
I started learning 3D because I see it as a natural progression of being a contemporary artist. Everything is in 3D now. CGI has taken over the world and with it, the art world is getting filled with people who don’t have a strong connection to art. You often have to know code to manage, so rather than being a creative endeavour, visuals become a computer skill. I would compare CGI to folklore, actually. There is content everywhere, it surrounds us and influences us because of its constant presence. It’s art without interpretation and anyone can join and appreciate. Computerised recreation of our natural surroundings is so prominent in modern-day culture that it feels completely natural to a whole generation of people. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing!
I look at it positively; it’s an opportunity for artists to adopt the new age, to move with the industry. This has been my motivation and I have since gone through a 3D related course and fallen in love with photogrammetry. And that’s how I got to Scan the World as well!
Indeed. Starting as a modeller, you are now our Hungarian ambassador, if I may say so. How do you feel about openly accessible data?
Well, I’m not sure if I would call it an ambassador, but thank you. Scan the World is such a good representation of the restart I’ve been looking for. It provides information and a new way of looking at art and culture, adapting the form and knowledge from the past centuries into a modern era. I don’t mind this change, if everyone is able to access data openly, it’s easier to gain connection with art and its history and stories; we can relate the background of things, even if they are not “current” anymore.
As creatures who are used to constantly manipulating our surroundings, it is good for us to reconnect with ancient artefacts and get involved with them, print them, read about them, get creative with them - if we were to move our lives into VR without this connection, the cultural system would collapse. That is why we need a bridge between the two, and Scan the World’s work is one of the foundation stones.
Thank you for saying that. Do you feel the same way about 3D printing itself?
I think it has two sides. It is revolutionary, in its own way, and while there is a concern for plastic production, some very good things can come out of it. It’s a bigger story than just supporting the tech, you support individuality and making things on demand, rather than buying from big companies that produce in mass. For small businesses, for example, 3D printing is a way of gaining profit without the worry of unsold stock. The creative tools and software that come along with it are also important, as they expand the horizons of both artists and engineers and support the industry at the same time.
Last question, how did you get to scanning the Kerepesi Cemetery and what are your next plans?
Kerepesi was actually just convenient. When I found Scan the World, I wanted to get involved and find a reachable subject to practice photogrammetry on. Museums are often dark and busy, so what better scanning subject to choose than the biggest European sculpture park - the cemetery. I fell in love with the process and while some of the sculptures there are not worthy (subjectively), their existence is important, as some of them are around 300 years old and face erosion and decay in general. I felt a duty to help preserve, or at least remember them in their current state, and 3D gives me the possibility of reconstruction as well. I’ve also started conversations with Budapest’s cultural heritage centre, there are a lot of possibilities and variety brings more relevance to people, so I would like to branch out.
As for next plans, who knows? I have too many. Since I’ve started scanning, I had to learn to let my expectations go, because some things you just have to be patient with, or realise that they really aren’t worth your time and effort. When there is more time, I would like to approach more contemporaries. They are all there, but worried about licensing and the unknown, they will need some time to warm up to it and realise the benefits of scanning and sharing their work with the public. I am slowly working away at their old-fashioned philosophies and maybe one day soon, I will be scanning everyone’s collections!
While I wait for them to cross the bridge, I will be talking to museums and occasionally scanning.
Find Balász’s models here: https://www.myminifactory.com/users/artsomnia.art