Sculptor talks about combining craftsmanship and 3D technology for the #WOODVETIA campaign

21/08/2017

Using 3D scanning, figurative artist Inigo Gheyselinck has created amazingly realistic wooden statues of Swiss historical figures for the #WOODVETIA campaign, launched by the Swiss forestry sector to promote the use of Swiss wood.

To carve the bodies of historic personalities, Gheyselinck selected models with a similar physique. For the heads, he used a different approach, sculpting them from clay. Gheyselinck then 3D scanned the bodies and the heads using Artec Eva 3D scanner, supplied by Artec's Certified Partner 3D-MODEL AG. Each body scan took no more than 15 minutes to complete. The head and body datasets were put together using the Autopilot mode in Artec Studio 11 software. The finished 3D models were sent to a CAD-compatible CNC-milling machine, which automatically produced the wooden figures. Each figure took three days to mill. Finally, the artist made some tweaks manually, in particular in the facial areas. Read the entire story of how the sculptures were created here.

Carving the bust of Swiss politician and railway pioneer Alfred Escher (1819-1882) on a CNC milling machine.

Many people have expressed interest in the campaign and wanted to learn more about what inspired the artist to participate in it. Forbes wrote about #WOODVETIA in a feature about augmented reality and 3D scanning in art. In a recent interview, Gheyselinck talked about his motivation, internal conflicts, and the role of modern technology in the project.

Q: Why did you and your team want to be involved in this?

The intersection of traditional art and modern technology has spurred huge possibilities and, at the same time, has created an area of tension and conflict for many within the art community.

A: The intersection of traditional art and modern technology has spurred huge possibilities and, at the same time, has created an area of tension and conflict for many within the art community. Thus, I shaped the design process in a way that both my art and the technological possibilities were fully implemented. But it was the inner conflicts especially, which brought up essential questions about my self-perception as an academically trained artist. I absolutely wanted to expose myself to that area of tension.

Q: What do you hope to achieve?

I have never created works before in this way, using the most modern and up-to-date technology. This was completely new and thus incredibly exciting.

A: First and foremost, I wanted to explore a new territory and, while doing so, discover and experience many new methods and techniques. I have never created works before in this way, using the most modern and up-to-date technology. This was completely new and thus incredibly exciting. From a production standpoint, this project was a huge challenge, the product-technical implications required us to push our limits.

Q: What kind of wood did you use?

A: We used different wood for every sculpture. Part of the #WOODVETIA campaign is to show the variety of Swiss woods. Which is why for each sculpture we chose a type of wood that represented the origins of the portrayed character.

Q: As an artist, did you have technical skill to do this? Did you feel like this compromised or enhanced your work?

Modern technology opens up new dimensions, not only in materialization but also in the creation process itself.

A: I did not have any experience in wood carving, however, that was not necessary. In general, I work with clay because it offers the possibility to reduce material from the existing form, as well as add materials to it, which is different from wood. In the artistic and technological development process (modeling with clay, scanning, 3D sculpting) I could focus on the design and was mostly independent from the material of the final execution. Compared to a traditional approach, where you work directly with the material (wood, marble), I had much more leeway. That certainly is the most important advantage of using this technology: the creation can happen mostly independent from the material.

Q: Do you really think that this new tech can, as you said, “preserve centuries-old art?”

A: For the most part, Fine Art is based on arts and craft. This can neither be replaced nor preserved by technologies. In our case, technology allowed us to create sculptures, which – one hundred years ago – demanded a lot more time and skill of the people involved. Modern technology opens up new dimensions, not only in materialization but also in the creation process itself. For me, this is a level that cannot easily be compared to Fine Art.

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