How lifelike should sculpture be?

The guy who is printing my male torsos has come back with a problem. He has printed one of my torsos, but has ended up with a ‘lower polygon count’.

In lay person’s language this means a less smooth, less realistic surface. People will see the surface is made up of thousands of little blocks.

Galatea emerges from clay into life, by Rodin. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He thinks that could be OK because it would be ‘a tribute to the digital process of a model’s creation’. I kind of understand what he means. Stone sculptors sometimes leave part of the work unfinished, to show how the statue emerged from the rock. See Pygmalion and Galatea, right.

In this case, I’d be showing that the torsos came from digital scans.

But it might also look a bit amateurish. Someone might think I used a cheap hobby scanner to do the job (instead of a professional – and expensive – one?

The printer says he can re-edit the files to make them smoother (if it was photography I’d say he’s going to increase the resolution) but he wants more money to do that. It’ll be another two hours’ work. I’ve agreed to that. What else can you do?

But to be fair, he has inserted holes into the legs (into which I will add the fixing rods), and squared off the top and bottom of the torsos (while complaining this took a lot of time). So we’re still on track to get this thing done.

Part of me likes shonky work

Shonky is defined as shoddy, evidently handmade, or deliberately clumsy work.  It contrasts with the smooth sophistication of mass-produced art.

If I like shonky it’s partly because I don’t have the technical drawing, painting or sculpting skills.  And I don’t have the patience to do detail. It allows me to be a bit slapdash.

The only art area where I don’t do shonky is photography. I like properly composed images. I need to see work created on thirds, with foreground interest, all the classical elements of photo structure. I’m suspicious of snapshot photography (Nan Goldin, for example) because I suspect they don’t know how to compose. But I might be wrong.

See also: Hayward shonky art exhibition from the past. and Snapshot photography


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