Shards: Resistance and Reassemblage in 3D Scanning’s Liminal Space is a series of alternative artifacts, digitally reassembled to highlight the anomalies in the 3D scanning process and reframe them as features, not errors. It is a series of three iterations—not copies because copies imply exactness—on a porcelain heirloom, scanned by three generations of women who are keepers of its history. 

As the women circle their heirloom, wielding an instrument that unravels its physical existence, pixel by pixel, into a digital one, they perform an embodied act: authoring its formation with their movements and cadence. Each time the object is scanned, the software generates a unique mesh and texture map, and thus, each digital model stores a variation—a memory—of the same object.

Shards is built on the production, reassemblage, and broadcast of resistant and non-conformist visual matter into a very established and structured 3D scanning process. Using the same tools and formal operations of computer simulation systems, the series revisualizes the data in physical form to make the underlying technological process transparent. Its goal is not to recreate a perfect version of reality, but to remember and reveal the transformation it has undergone.

In Shards, each new form—fragmented but whole—speaks not only of the scanning process, but also of the people who care enough about them to sustain and transfer them over and over again. Like those who practice kintsugi (金継ぎ) or circulate poor images, those in possession of heirlooms acknowledge their role as the objects’ temporary agents within a genealogy unconfined by time or space, an unspoken commitment to keep them from disappearing. The act of (re-)assembling and (re-)distributing material takes on a prominent social role, since it guarantees the survival of certain messages over time. So, through compression, the objects increase their expanse. On their surface, congealed in fragments, their longevity is secure.

Texture map sample — Original (left) and Altered (right)

Shards was completed as the final thesis project for my MFA.
The pieces were exhibited at the Parsons School of Design in New York as well as La MaMa Galleria in New York.
Copyright © 2023 Jacqueline Wu