Last month, the 3D content platform Sketchfab presented some of its users with a challenge. Given a treasure trove of downloadable cultural heritage models — from ancient castles to dinosaur skulls and hellenistic statues — digital artists were asked to reimagine these artifacts and remix them with contemporary aesthetics.
There were thirty-six entries to the “CHRemixChallenge,” ranging from abstract to comical. Some pieces seemed to atone for past transgressions, such as the bison skull adorned with flowers. Others commented on the present, as in the chess queen with a cellphone held to her ear and the ancient vase stamped with the Coca Cola logo.
Digital artists were asked to reimagine these artifacts and remix them with contemporary aesthetics.
“Simply put, the challenge seemed like a great opportunity to facilitate a form of collaboration over time and space between modern, digital creators and historic, traditional artists,” Thomas Flynn, head of cultural heritage at Sketchfab, told Digital Trends. “We’re really at the very beginning of institutions discovering how to create and release 3D data. At the same time artists and designers are beginning to realize that this data is out there and available for reuse. This challenge seemed like a good way to stimulate some creativity.”
For a few years now, Sketchfab has been making an effort to share and promote culture through digitization. Over 600 museums currently use Sketchfab to scan and publish 3D content for anyone with an internet connection to access. The British Museum has hundreds of objects available to view online, including the fist 3D scan of the Rosetta Stone, which it released last year.
One of the company’s stated goals for projects like these is to make culture more accessible, while engaging people who may feel isolated from it.
“Accessibility has many meanings,” Flynn said. “Something like this challenge is perhaps more about making cultural content more approachable and creating an example of engaging with a particular group — 3D artists.”
Flynn offered his own contribution to the challenge, remixing a scan he made of the bust of Zeus while working at the British Museum, and turning it’s marble translucent.
The winner of the challenge, selected via community votes, added a sort of vaporwave/cyberpunk halo to a bust of a rhetorician.
Sketchfab runs similar challenges every week, though Flynn said the CHRemixChallenge was the first to focus on cultural heritage specifically.