Teageneration (or: why I don’t trust transporters)

A series of 3D-printed objects, starting by printing the iconic Utah Teapot, scanning the print, and printing the scan, iterating as the object degrades.

This work opens up many interesting questions about copyright and what it means to replicate a work through mechanical means. Who owns the original work? Is it Martin Newell, the original implementor of the object? Is it still copyright to the Melitta Group, the original manufacturer of the teapot on which it was based? At what point does the destructive scanning and reproduction process generate a new work? How much of the creativity is thanks to the makers of the 3D scanner used, or the 3D printer? What will this mean in the future when 3D scanning technology matures and is able to produce better replicas?

Serendipitously, this work was finalized just before the news of The Other Nefertiti came out. While the cover story for the scan has been thoroughly debunked, it still raises more questions than answers; who owns the 3D scan? Is the scan a mechanical reproduction or a derivative work? What is the copyright status of the scanned data in the first place, and is it ethical for the Neues Museum to claim exclusive ownership over the preservation data of a historical artifact that they never had any physical claim to in the first place?

This series was first presented at the CoCA Seattle 2016 member’s show. The display pedestal was designed in cooperation with and fabricated by Ray C. Freeman, III.

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