Nefertiti ring

This Nefertiti ring is made using a high quality scan of the Nefertiti bust on display in the Neues Museum. According to artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, the OBJ file was captured by scanning the bust on display in the Neues Museum. This raised some suspicions due to the submillimeter accuracy of the scan (through a glass case) and the fact that the bust was professionally scanned by TrigonArt in 2008. It seems more likely that the file from this professional scan was leaked. Either way, the 3D scan was released to the public as a way to make "cultural objects publicly accessible." With the release of the scan anyone can print it or remix it, begging the question of which will be more important going forward, the original or the scan? 

CT scans show Thutmose, the sculptor of the bust 3363 years ago, covered up wrinkles and bags under the eyes, possibly in an attempt to conform to the "aesthetic ideals of the era" (ancient photoshop?). The original bust is not an accurate representation of the woman Nefertiti and is thus and early second-order simulacrum, "symbol of a non faithful representation to the original." 

Jean Baudrillard references Jorge Luis Borges' short story On Exactitude in Science where a kingdom is so obsessed with making an exact map of the kingdom people become obsessed with the representation as original decays. The kingdom falls to ruin and people eventually live in the tattered remains of the map. (Basically, the Matrix where everyone lives in a simulation while the real earth is destroyed).

Over time the original bust will degrade (and perhaps be destroyed) while the scan lives on as a perfect replica, a reverse of the events in The Picture of Dorian Gray where the picture ages instead of Dorian Gray. At this point the scan and prints made with it will become a third-order simulacrum, when the "symbol is taken to be more important or authoritative of the original." 

Similarly, we could digitally restore or touch up the scan of the bust. The stucco has cracked and flaked in a few areas, and her left eye is missing. Fixing these is small, but fixing more ornamental parts of the bust, like the cobra on her crown would make the scan more of a third-order simulacrum, a symbol with no original. We would run the risk of adding ornamentation that looks vaguely "Egyptian." This could result in a situation like the one in the Doctor Who episode The Magicians Apprentice, where the Doctor rides into a theater in 1138 on a modern tank with an electric guitar. The juxtaposition of such items is clear to us, but to someone from the far future these items are all from a close enough time period. The same could happen if we try to improve the Nefertiti bust. If we add a cobra that looks "Egyptian" the style could be off by decades and the scan of the bust will have become a third-order simulacrum.

The original scan is a 71.8 MB file with 2,018,232 facets. Because the ring is small I reduced the number of facets to about 25,000. I joined the bust to an octagonal ring with AutoDesk's TinkerCAD and printed the design in steel from shapeways. It is available in my store.