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ISIS Vandals Inspire Digital Remixes of Cultural Artifacts

Tragic events in the Iraqi city of Mosul have led Pierre Chaumont to digitally modify famous sculptures.
All This For Brioche (Marie-Antoinette),Digital Print, 19 x 27 inches, 2016. All images courtesy of the artist.

The tragic destruction of cultural artifacts at The Mosul Museum last year was the catalyst for the creation of several new works that give a digital update to artifacts from around the world. Mosul is a series by Montreal-based artist Pierre Chaumont, in which 3D scans and software are used to make whimsical and relevant modifications to virtual representations of famous sculptures and artifacts.

Fortunately, many of the artifacts that were destroyed in Mosul were probably reproductions, but as Chaumont tells The Creators Project, "these attacks sparked the creation of a global archive consisting of 3D scans of these lost artworks and were made available for free to anyone who has access to the internet and a computer." The global archive that Chaumont is talking about are websites like My Mini Factory's "Scan The World" project and Autodesk's 123D, where 3D scans of pieces of cultural heritage are compiled and distributed. Upon discovering these collections, Chaumont saw an opportunity to make new works from them.

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The Beginning (Winged Lion Of Mosul), 19 x 27 inches, Digital Print, 2015.

The Beginning (Winged Lion Of Mosul)—the first work in the Mosul series—is a digital print that Chaumont made from a 3D scan of an Assyrian sculpture of a protective deity similar to the ones that were destroyed in Mosul. Using the open-source 3D software Blender, Chaumont depicts shards of the stone sculpture frozen in mid-air, memorializing the instant it was smashed by ISIS supporters as the rest of the world watched. "I try to learn a lot about the scans I use to make my works," explains Chaumont, "I single out in each one aspects that aim at changing our way of looking at or accepting them."

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When The Laurels Wither (Sir Henry Havelock), 19 x 27 inches, Digital Print, 2016.

The works in the Mosul series have taken on multiple forms. After producing digital prints, Chaumont moved on to video and animated GIFs, which he's displayed as holographic projections. Chaumont says that the various iterations of the series are "like an onion," because the concept can simultaneously function at multiple levels.