Visual artist Oliver Laric is bringing the history of the Usher Gallery Collection, and the philanthropic aims of James Ward Usher into the 21st century; using digital technology to scan the sculptural works of the collection and make them available as online downloads.
Title Versions Historical Sites The Collection and Usher Gallery Lead Artists Oliver Laric Artwork 3D scan files, website and sculpture Partners / Stakeholders The Contemporary Art Society, Lincolnshire County Council, Seventeen Gallery Budget £75,000 Development June 2012 - ongoing Dates TBC
In the late 19th century James Ward Usher acquired the sole rights to reproduce the ‘Lincoln Imp’- a stone carving in Lincoln Cathedral to use in his jewellery, and with the wealth that he amassed he created the Usher Gallery Collection, which he bequeathed to the people of Lincolnshire. Oliver Laric's Versions is an ongoing project that interrogates ideas around the dissemination, copyright and hierarchy of images. For The Collection Laric will take 3D scans of the historical objects, and the subsequent virtual models will be made available for free online, the artist will then use the scanned objects to create a series of sculptures. Laric’s interest in the reproduction and sharing of images has strong connections with the collection’s history, and this project will further both the artist’s ongoing investigations and the aspirations of the museum’s founder; to share his collection with the people of Lincolnshire and beyond.
- To further develop and broaden the Versions project.
- To develop the artist’s interest in dissemination and access to visuals held by institutions, into the public realm.
- To broaden access to The Collection and Usher Gallery by utilising digital technologies.
- To bring new work by leading contemporary artists into the collection
- To reference the history of the collection and the original philanthropic and audience focused aims.
- To allow a broad audience digital access to the sculptural works in the collections.
- To allow audiences to download and work with the objects in the collections for research and creative purposes.
Oliver Laric was approached by the Usher Gallery to work with them on an application for The Contemporary Art Society’s Annual Award for museums. The gallery identified the pertinent link that Laric’s work had to the history and founding of the museum, resonating strongly with notions about who, why and how people access images, and that his practice would be investigative, innovative and take public engagement with collection in an exciting new direction.
After an initial application, they were selected to write a more in-depth proposal with a full breakdown of timescales and costs, the planning process from start to finish was approximately 4 months with quotes for new technologies and negotiations with the scanner company taking the majority of the time.
The next stage of the project will be the scanning of the objects in the collection. 3D scanning has developed significantly over the last 5 years, and a hand-held device can now scan objects in real time, creating highly detailed virtual objects. 3D modelling software has also become more advanced, no longer requiring engineering expertise, but has become a mainstream technique of visual production. During 2013/14 the collection will be scanned, starting with the most significant pieces and will include classical sculpture, archaeological finds, as well as smaller pieces such as teapots and the occasional unexpected scan; perhaps a museum guard? This scanning and cataloguing process will remove the historical and material value of each object reducing it to a simple universal form.
The subsequent data from the scanning process will be made public and accessible to view and download through a purpose built website without copyright restrictions. This site will be an ongoing legacy for the museum and the collections beyond the timeframe of the project.
The visibility of the website and the unrestricted downloadable scans will allow academic researchers from around the world access to the objects of historic interest. High-resolution 3D models are usually very expensive to create, and are therefore not easily accessible, Versions will allow an entirely new audience to engage with the objects in the collection- with future possibilities including game designers and artists utilising and adapting the scanned data.
Oliver Laric will produce a series of one-off sculptural collages created from different aspects of the collections, combining the virtual data into new formations that are 3D printed and reproduced using a mold, then cast in pigmented acrylic plaster and sited back within the museum. These pieces will be incorporated into the museum’s official collection.
Versions at The Collection and Usher Museum is open ended and the use of the data is not limited to the official timeline of the project. It is anticipated that reincarnations of the initial data will continue to develop indefinitely. The gallery are interested in seeing how the project will affect museum conservation and lending, with the potential for it to become part of a standardised archival practice.
The data will be made public for an indefinite period of time, and will continuously travel, becoming used and reused, developing into new projects in and outside of the art world.
The majority of the budget has come from the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award for Museums. The gallery has also included an exhibition of Laric’s work into their annual programme to showcase the new work entering the collection, and this has been funded from the museum's NPO funded programme of exhibitions supported by Arts Council England.
Approximately 60% of the project funding will go towards the cost of the new scanner, technical support, the development of the website and research. 20% will fund the purchase of the new work for the collection, and artist’s fees and travel, with the final 20% going towards the physical exhibition costs.
Publicity for the project in development stages has included the exposure received from the award success, and has already resulted in positive feedback and interest from the arts and museums press.
Once the project is launched online, a marketing strategy will be developed focusing on online advertising and museums audiences, as well as sharing information with specialist networks in design, 3D technologies and the arts to ensure that the project is accessed across many disciplines.
The project is aimed at extremely diverse audiences; the physical exhibition will be seen by the gallery’s local audience as well as a specific arts audience, with the website and 3D file viewer accessible by a global audience.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Usher Gallery will be hosting a symposium with academics and the University of Lincoln to explore questions raised by the project about collections and access to historic works. There will be an accompanying publication, which will also allow artists who have utilised the files to input and provide information about their own reproductions- charting the widespread outcomes of the project.
Evaluation is ongoing between the Usher Gallery, Oliver Laric and The Contemporary Art Society and will be collated initially at the end of the gallery exhibition.
In house evaluation tools will be used alongside interviews with artists and users of the files to produce an evaluation that examines the current reach and scope of the project.
- New Technologies -Working with new file types and exploring how they can be stored and disseminated when linked to archival standards will be an important discussion point in the ongoing development of this technology.
- Evaluation Timescales- one of the most critical elements of this project is its ability to continue to develop ‘without limit’- and establishing ways of evaluating and collating that information.
- New Audiences- the ability for Versions to reach far ranging audiences makes this project unique, particularly within the specialised field of historic collections.
The Usher Gallery and Collection are currently in discussion with other interested institutions about the possibilities of using the scanner to create a larger collection of scanned objects in the future.
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Oliver Laric was born in 1981 in Innsbruck, Austria. He has produced solo projects as part of Frieze Frame London, Art Basel 2012, and at the Skulpturhalle Basel and has participated in recent group shows including the Centre for Contemporary Art Cincinnati, and Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, MASS MoCA, Massachusetts. Forthcoming group exhibits include Palais de Tokyo, Kunstverein München, Kunstverein Wiesbaden, Artspace, Auckland.