The work of Oliver Laric converts qualities of the digital age, such as reproduction, variability and instant distribution into the physical realm. The current exhibition takes a closer look at 3D scanned sculptures – a technique applied by the artist since 2009. By 3D scanning from original or plaster casts of mostly neo-classical sculptures, Laric challenges the conventional hierarchies tied to our understanding of art, while addressing the notion of authorship. The institutional life of these works and their institutionalisation than further scrutinise the complex legal ambiguities of copyright and rights of use. Moreover, through the act of virtualisation, the work, which has been closed off in a museum, is released and made accessible to an increasingly digital society, regardless of social, geographical or cultural boundaries. Through this gesture, Laric challenges traditional modes of art institutionalism, while democratising art, by stripping it, of its constrains to private ownership.
Reclining Pan (2019), the central piece of the exhibition, depicts the Greek God of the wild groves, shepherds and flocks (Pan), who has been destined to live as half man and half goat. The anthropomorphic nature of the sculpture is not coincidental, but rather suggestive of Laric’s broader interest in the hybridisation of (virtual) matter and life, as depicted within the present age. Here the borders are in continuous flux, morphing into different forms of life. Laric’s interested in the 16 th century original of the Reclining Pan, from the St. Luis Art Museum, was drawn from the theme of the sculpture – an anthropomorphic figure –, but also from the sculpture’s history; It was sculpted from the remnants of a Roman relief, making the relief at St Luis Art Museum, the second incarnation. The act of the works transformation – it’s becoming of something else, perpetuates what is crucial for Laric’s practice, that being the act of releasing, democratising and allowing the virtual form of an existing work to gain its own life. threedscans.com, the online archive of the artist, which has inspired the title of the exhibition, gathers and allows for visitors to download (free of charge) Laric’s 3D scans. Laric loosely follows the virtual and physical destiny of these scans, may it be art, or as is frequently the case, popular culture or commerce. threedcans.com, (2019), a print on demand publication, which is also part of the exhibition, gathers a selection of Laric’s 3D scans from this archive, while simultaneously documenting their life after downloading. Its print on demand nature, suggests an open end, where content and form are in continuous flux.
The exhibition brings together various parts of Laric’s practice. Although rooted in the domain of the virtual, the physicality of Laric’s works bears an equal importance. His 3D sculptures made of stereo- lithography, resin, pigment or aluminium among other, introduce a language of their own, elements of which are characteristic of the shifts in contemporary sculpture. The lightness of these sculptures, frequent transparency and hollow nature, emphasise the thin, skin-like layer, distinctive for the surface of these works. The fragile and adaptable nature of these sculptures has become the point of departure for a new series of reliefs (Untitled (Relief)), 2019, which juxtapose a selection of flattened and isolated gestures, appropriated from existing 3D scans. Made of a mix of pigment, resin, marble and granite powder, these works, which resemble marble reliefs, become in themselves examples of variation and abstraction of an already existing form, and a materialisation of a so-called after-life.