As a kid, my favourite thing to do at the Natural History museum was a midday stop, when my family strolled past an antiquated looking vending machine in the museum’s musty basement.
The mould-A-Rama machine was oddly shaped, George Jetson-esque, and spewed out made-to-order, brightly coloured plastic dinosaurs.
There was such joy in watching the liquid wax pour into the mould, and then eject a warm, custom toy—well worth the dollar or two demanded.
A version of this tradition was recently elevated to a more technologically advanced level by Spanish collective blablabLAB. In the tourist-packed district of Barcelona’s La Rambla, street artists often pose as human sculptures—which raised a question for the group: How could one connect the rituals of spectator-performer, artist-tourist, and observer-object via art and science?
The answer lies in the hacked Microsoft Kinect, coupled with the deep cultural satisfaction of a tourist taking home a souvenir—in this case, not of a dinosaur, but of oneself.
Be Your Own Souvenir! PROMO from blablabLAB on Vimeo.
BlablaLAB invited tourists to pose as statues, assimilating as street performers, and then rewarded the participants as consumers when presented with their own free personal souvenir: a small replica of the tourist’s figure, generated with a full 360-degree scan using openKinect, and then 3D printed in plastic.
From BlablaLAB, an explanation of the DIY process:
“All the software used in this project is free and open. Custom software has been developed using openFrameworks and openKinect in order to produce a tunable full 360 degree point cloud. Using a midi controller, the three differents input pointclouds (3 Kinects) can be adjusted in space and resolution. The resulting combined point cloud is processed by Meshlab to produce a watertight mesh reconstruction (Poisson reconstruction). Skeinforge takes the mesh, previously cleaned up through Blender (in order to replace the bottom basement, and insert specific structural elements), and outputs a gcode file, which can feed a cnc machine (Rapman 3.1).”